It’s late August!!! Pre-Season football is almost done, fantasy teams are drafting, these are all good things….
and it means football Sundays are coming!!!! These 17 Sundays are so special and go so goddammed FAST on us….we
must embrace and enjoy these things!!! Now let’s just see if I can channel up the inner anger I need to write one of these
damn things properly….hrmmm, I should start with the Cowboys….that would do it….nahhh, I’ll save THAT for Part II
(in the next few days)…..for today we’ll bag on the lesser conference….the AFC
The whole football media world has been bending down and kissing Denver’s….err scratch that… Peyton Manning’s fanny and proclaiming they should cancel the AFC’s season and walk them into the Super Bowl..not so fast…the AFC West has….. ummmm ….errr….sh!t….well they got the Chiefs!!! Alright, flawed and beatable as the Broncos are, they do have an easy path to a division title and a probable high seed in this weak AFC Conference….least the Chiefs might make this almost interesting….and Phillip Rivers turnovers are always fun!
You can see why people would go nuts for the Broncos….at first….Manning, those WR’s Decker and Thomas were awesome on their own….now you add the Super-Slot Stud (ugh too many s’s…SORRY) in Wes Welker and you can make a case for this passing attack to be unstoppable…but then you look under the hood…they lost their starting center (be honest you don’t care what his name is, so I ain’t looking it up), they have NO IDEA who the RB is going to be….and we’ve all seen when the going gets tough Peyton Manning tends to go the OTHER way….they still have decent special teams and Fox is a solid coach….but now let’s see the other warts on the team…..
….the defense….bad enough that they let Dumerville walk (guess we know the execs drink to excess at other times besides when they get in their cars) on a contract glitch….and now Von Miller is out six games….one of the best pass rush pairs in the league up in smoke just like that….this secondary is still butthurt from what the Ravens did to them last playoffs…and I just can’t see this unit holding up its end of the deal….the best new for the Broncos is that they can blink, play half-ass and go 5-1 or 6-0 in the division….and that kinda leg up in their schedule might make an easy path for a bye week…it’s just like Peyton’s a Colt again eh??
Projected Record: 11-5
Kansas City Chiefs:
As much as I’m down on the Broncos….I look at the Chiefs roster and I’m impressed with what they’ve done there (*sigh* writing up the Chiefs does make me miss Mr and Mrs Chiefs Guy over at Sun Tavern…they were fun and they did add to our Sunday experience, and it always gets a moment of silence from me that their son is too busy kicking ass an ice hockey goalie to come….can’t fault them for that….unless it was basketball )…..Jamaal Charles was awesome last year despite the team’s issues, Alex Smith is a good enough QB, they added Fasano and Donnie Avery to balance out the passing game and get Dwayne Bowe some more room to make plays and do what he does (scary that Alex Smith IS the best QB he’s played for….then again the last time the Chiefs drafted their starting QB was before the AFL-NFL merger…yes even I wasn’t born yet….)
…the defense will be better too and has a more attack-oriented scheme which is also a good and there’s too much talent on this defense (Hali, Flowers, and Berry) for this unit to suck again like they did last year…..the 2 win season is gonna be a quick fading memory….
…..So now you’re thinking “damn you’re high on this team and crapping all over the Broncos, why the hell didn’t you put KC in first place???” Well its simple….as much as I like and am high on the Chiefs roster….does it REALLY fit Andy Reid’s style of play?? Not really….Alex Smith throws 60 times a month….not a game, there’s no Deshawn Jackson type in the WR corps and Reid is a TERRIBLE adjustment coach and I’m not convinced he can change his ways to fit the strength of his team….don’t get me wrong, Charles will be the new Brian Westbrook in this offense and he’ll get his yards, but I’m still concerned that the coach is gonna adapt to properly fit his team, at least like Denver, they are gifted 4 wins from SD and Oakland, hell that doubles last year’s win total right there J
Projected Record: 9-7
San Diego Chargers:
….before I start, I do gotta say this….I like Phillip Rivers….I’m glad they finally changed regimes in SD, it was LONG overdue…not only was Norv done here, but AJ Smith earned that “Lord of No Rings” nickname….and boy did they leave a sh!t-pile to be cleaned up here….it’s been only two pre-season games and Rivers has spent more time on the turf then the grounds keepers…..the WR’s are a group of “who’s that” and IR spots….bad special teams and a rebooted secondary…if Rivers isn’t a drinking man by now (and he probably should be)….he damn sure will be one by season’s end…..at least for the offense’s sake….Ryan Matthews is not only healthy, but running good and strong…that’s good…the more they can hand it off…the more Rivers can survive out there…not to mention adding Danny Woodhead to get some check downs and dump-offs means less forcing the ball all the way down the field for the only QB that Mark Sanchez can look at, laugh and say “damn you make some DUMB-ass decisions and give the ball away too much!!!” (and watch this be the year Gates stays healthy right??)
I like this whole paragraph break in my previews now….it gives me a bit to take a breath and re-asses the thoughts here and in this case a chance to say something positive about this team…good God…I gotta talk the Raiders next…ack….but anyway….looks like Manti Te’O should be the MLB and heart of the LB corps for years to come and Dwight Freeney does add some pass rush and leadership…but bringing a knife to a gun fight is an upgrade to the weapons the Chargers have…..this isn’t the year in San Diego, this is a long rebooting process here….
Projected Record: 5-11
….I should almost put the Raiders on the 2014 draft clock….last week they made the Saints defense look like the 85 Bears…they might wanna try blocking a player or two now and then….Matt Flynn hasn’t been on the ground hurting and stunned this much since Russell Wilson beat him out last year….and that was BEFORE their best lineman tore his triceps….I guess the good news here is Darren McFadden can’t get hurt if Flynn is swarmed and killed before he can even hand the ball off….right??....oh wait…McFadden dinged his shoulder in the Saints game….holy God….this team is AWFUL…..
*taking paragraph break to try to say something good about the Raiders*
….at least on the bright spot….not only is the Black Hole name now appropriate….YOU ….yes YOU ….RAIDER NATION….you are on the anti-football watch list….embrace this….rejoice in this….you will be beloved by dozens….ok maybe barely one dozen…. fans in the corner of a small bar in Roselle Park salivating over cluster-frak football week after week after week and mourned when the season is over and we can’t watch you stumble yet again….poor Matt Flynn, so much for getting a chance to shine here…..
Projected Record: 2-14
Man, talk about needing to clean the palette after talking about the Raiders (I did wash my hands….thoroughly….)…the AFC South may not be much better….awful are the Titans and Jags, but they did have two teams make the playoffs last year….and could again….this division looks a lot like the West when you start to break it down….two anti-football candidates, an up and coming team on the rise, the team the world thinks is poised for a run that I’m not too confident in…hopefully I can unleash some writing skill and not make this sound like a copy/paste!
Arian Foster has had a rough pre-season…the back…the foot….Matt Schaub is still his QB and Gary Kubiak is still his coach…no wonder his body hurts from having to carry all that AND the football right?? Plus the plan in Houston is to use Ben Tate a bit more….which is a good plan, he’s maybe the best #2 back in football now, if they can ever get a WR to line up with Andre Johnson and make defenses deal with the OTHER side of the field….this team could be lethal on offense (that is if you believe in Schaub….not sure if I do anymore….)…the o-line is good…makes monster run blocks and keeps Schaub’s jersey clean….all good things
For the defense Brian Cushing is back too…that’s a plus, a BIG plus…as important as JJ Watt is to a defense, this team slipped big when he went down…and adding Ed Reed at least means he won’t pick off Matt Schaub in their annual second round of the playoffs ass kicking from the good teams in the AFC….I don’t even want to comment on the idiocy of Antonio Smith getting suspended for STOPPING HIMSELF from smacking Incognito in the head, because I’m already sick of the Gestapo that the NFL Front Office is with suspensions and other garbage…
I guess the biggest thing with the Texicans….they feel like that same old team that’s gotten a playoff win and then slapped by the class of the AFC…they still have the same issues if Reed ever gets on the damn field that will help too….the Colts are getting better and will snip at their heels too….playing the NFC West this year is an ugly thing though….
Projected Record: 11-5
Meet the new darlings in the NFL….the coach beat cancer….the QB is on his way to being one of the NFL’s golden children (doesn’t he have commercials already so we can be sick of him too?), they added a solid back in Bradshaw when he’s healthy, he should balance out the offense nicely….and Luck already had 4300 yards and 28 TDs in his rookie year (he ran 5 of those for the nitpickers that wanna OCD my stat quoting ) …the receivers are there and (aside of Reggie Wayne) are getting their experience…
The biggest question in Indy is can the defense hold up its end?? And of course last year the Colts feasted on the weak division and a softer schedule (I don’t think they beat a playoff team all of last year and I’m too lazy to double check)…this year the schedule is a little meaner (just for San Fran and Seattle alone, that’s hella mean!) , we’re gonna learn a lot about the Colts in the 7 games before their bye (Oak, Mia, at SF, at Jax, Sea, at SD, Den)….the team might be better this year…but the record won’t be, always weird when that happens….
Projected Record: 9-7
So many questions here….can Jake Locker pretend to be an NFL QB? (unlike Christian Ponder he can’t hide behind his star RB who wears #28…) …is Chris Johnson on the decline? (why bring in Shawn Greene otherwise?) …can any receiver actually catch the damn ball on this team? The big addition and maybe even the key to this offense is gonna be Delaney Walker…..if he can be a productive option at TE, that will make the play-action game dangerous….maybe make some room for the WR’s and make 8 guys in the box less likely (plus he’s a damn good blocker too)…Locker DID look good against Atlanta in the pre-season game that matters…but it’s still just pre-season….
On the other side of the ball….can the defense make a stop? I’m not convinced there either…this team just feels stuck in the mud….If the Titans were in the NFC I’d probably have them down for like 3 wins (I know…I’m crapping on the AFC a lot this year but look at them up and down, and then look at the NFC, the NFC team for team is way more better then the AFC is…its just fact….)….I feel like I’m mailing it in on the Titans…well they mailed in their season already…so why not?? (plus I’m gonna piss a lot of people off when I get to the Steelers….)
Projected Record: 6-10
One of the minor downsides to giving up coffee like I have….I’ve been less hostile in the last six months, less cranky….less prone to bitching things out unless really provoked…and when you look at this team and want to break them down objectively…. you SHOULD be all pissed off and full of rage… *slurps on the green tea*…looking at Gabbert and Chad Henne and calling them quarterback…I should be drinking hard liquor…it’s a shame actually…the WRs are quality, and not only is Mercedes Lewis a good TE, but damn it’s a damn fine porno-name in the next life, right? The O-line is getting better…the defense was decent last year….was just eternally on the field last year….and Maurice Jones-Drew didn’t hold out….so he should be pretty good this year….but in this league you’re only as good as your QB and your coach….and they just SUCK there….on to the anti-football list for you!!!! No paragraph break of calm can help THIS team….ok I just looked and saw 16 points scored in their first 2 pre-season games and almost spit the last sip of green tea on my monitor laughing…that might have pissed me off …..
Projected Record: 4-12
Holy crap a division in the AFC I don’t have to get all angry and hateful and rip to pieces…hell I can even say nice things about most of the teams in the AFC North and I won’t even be bashing the Browns!!! My God the world is ending!!!!
I’m torn on this one, it’s a toss-up between them and the Ravens for who’s gonna win this thing…each year the Bengals seem to improve and inch their way towards being the best team in this division….AJ Green is as dangerous a receiver as anyone in the league, as long as Sanu, Grisham and Hawkins can make defenses pay attention to them this offense has the punch to cash in on the good field position the D is going to give them….add in rookie Giovani Berard (Jesus this guy should be making pizzas not running the rock!!) the only thing holding this team back could be QB Andy Dalton….can he make big plays? Can he take his game to the next level? (not even elite per say….just be GOOD….not average) 4000 yards and 30 TDs would be just about what the Bengals would like to see out of him….if he comes close to that, this team can win this division and even a playoff game….or two…it kinda tells you something that this is the first team preview I’ve written where I avoided talking about the QB…but don’t worry Laflamme drafted him in TWO leagues….Maddenitis is a real disease….it’s when you play a guy for 4 seasons in Madden and fall in love with what you do with him in the video game and expect real life to do the same…..
The true strength of the Bengals is an attack defense that had near 60 sacks last season…and now they added Roger Goodell’s favorite fine victim in James Harrison to even add more pass rush to this imposing front 7…all the rest of this underrated defense (compared to that paper “#1 defense” that has the horrible hankies in this division) comes back and should only get better as well….. …it does seem hard to accept…but the times they are a changing in the AFC….
Projected Record: 10-6
Its still weird to me….you watch this team, and you try to figure out how they win…it’s not a dominating defense….its not superior QB play….it’s not pound it down your throat running….it’s not a massive o-line…it’s not even epic special teams play, though Mr Dancing with the Stars did dance some big plays back on returns….but I think I kinda figured it out while looking at this team this morning….unlike every other team in the AFC, this roster doesn’t have any massive warts….they’re solid and set at every position, yeah they lost Lewis and Reed on defense, but they added Dumerville (also weakening a rival in the same step)….him and Suggs on pass rushing is scary-ass GOOD…the defense will be fine (hell it played most of last year without Reed and Lewis anyway)….the only concern on this team is 2nd WR and hole at TE (Dallas Clark is a nice little emergency pick-up….bet the Dolphins wish someone else like him was on the scrap heap)…even if it means the beloved pop-gun offense is back with the Purple Haze….you’d think I’d give the defending champs more space in here to talk about them (and the divison…), but that’s just how they are….and probably how the Ravens like it….
Projected Record: 10-6 (told you it was a toss-up )
It was almost hard to fight the habit to look at the AFC North and just auto-pilot the Browns into last place, start mocking them for being in Cleveland and embrace them as an anti-football LOCK….but no more….least not this year…..things are looking up in Cleveland….Norv Turner is calling the plays now, and this means good and big things for Trent Richardson….and even Brandon Wheedon is embracing and looking better in a system more catered to his skill set (something the Titans should look into, Jake Locker may suck, but at least let him suck HIS way)….an improved offense and an under-appreciated defense and the stigma of being from Cleveland….you can see why people look past this team….but they shouldn’t…this team may not be a playoff team (though in the AFC solid is playoff worthy), but they’re on their way….it’s a shame Josh Gordon is also getting a 4 game suspension, but what team DOESN’T have people suspended now? This week one game vs. Miami is gonna be HUGE for both teams….also don’t sell short adding Paul Kreuger to what is an improving defense as well….looks like the biggest mistake by the lake might now have to be the Miz…..
Projected Record: 9-7
No I didn’t “forget” the Steelers oh entitled Steeler nation…..I just honestly think your team stinks! An aging defense that was a paper tiger ranked #1 (it didn’t scare anyone last year)…your running game is so bad you turned to Felix Jones (which is hilarious when you think of the crap Dallas took for taking him over the “complete back” in Mendenhall, who you basically cut for this guy)…your offensive line is Swiss Cheese, your top drafted foot has a nasty foot injury, your QB gets pummeled behind that offensive line and with Mike Wallace hanging out the J-Lo and Lebron…Heath Miller won’t start the season….and more important the rest of this division is just as good if not better than they were last year…..don’t cry too much in your Horrible Hankies Steeler Nation, it’s just your turn on the bottom of the scrap heap! Least you’re hearing good things about Marcus Wheaton…if Ben can stay upright enough to throw it to him….but the rest of the team is just coming apart at the seams right now….was due to happen…NO ONE stays good forever in the NFL….
Projected Record: 6-10 (maybe I made it sound worse than it is eh?)
The weakest division in a weak conference by far, but it makes up for its lack of talent with TONS of drama and PR annoyances to cover up the stink of the division....not much hope, and not a lot to look at here...but they do have Tom Brady and two off-season and pre-season "buzz teams" to keep an eye on....this just ain't the year of the AFC East.....
New England Patriots:
….so how was YOUR off-season?? Gone is half the offense, Welker, Woodhead, Lloyd (who is amazingly unsigned still), Hernandez….but don’t worry TIM TEBOW IS HERE TO SAVE THE DAY ONE INCOMPLETE PASS AT A TIME!!!! And oh yeah Gronk is still hurt and not going to be on the field for week 1….oiiiiii (and I still have this team listed in first place….that’s scary….)….the one big adjustment we all expect to see is the ground game to get used more….Shane Vereen, Steven Ridley and the new addition of power back Legarret Blount, that all leans towards a power running game (gee if only they had some tight ends and could run two TE power sets…hrrrmmm)… Julian Edelman has been called a “Welker-clone” time to prove that also…
This season is also going to be a BIG test for the Patriots defense which at best can be called underwhelming…butt-fumble games aside…..this team’s a bit of a mess…but at least they have the QB, the coach and a bit of experience (and oh yeah the five game Amendola will be healthy too)…and that’s still just enough to be more betterer than anyone else in the AFC East
Projected Record: 9-7 (this could get bumped up to 10 or 11 if Gronk is healthy and Amendola stays in one piece)
So as bad and brutal as the Pats off-season was….damn Miami looked like the golden child in the off-season didn’t they??? The offense got boosted by adding a legit deep threat in Mike Wallace….they picked up an underneath guy in Dustin Keller…oh …wait…his knee got destroyed because the NFL is obsessed with the head injuries and have now made it open season on low (and probably MORE DANGEROUS) hits…Lamar Miller and Ryan Tanehill have an extra year of experience in the system and now the returning receivers can play their proper roles as #2 and slot WRs…it’s a damn shame Miami didn’t find a guy to protect the blind side…..that gaping “BLITZ ME HERE” hole on the O-Line is a huge reason I can’t pick this team to win the AFC East
The defense was solid last year, lead by a good front four, and now with Ellerbe in the middle…they should be good…and it’s not like the East has any legit offenses to scare anyone …this whole season comes down to how they protect the QB and if they can replace Keller….
Projected Record: 9-7
Its amazing how the more things change in Buffalo…the more they stay the same…. again given a shining light of hope with first round QB EJ Manuel….of course he goes down with a knee injury (he’s likely to play week 1….if not it’s some guy named Tool….I could have fun with this)…..Kevin Kolb was supposed to be the backup plan and the veteran leader….but you’d get more durability putting one of my nieces out there, the Kevin the Konkussed… CJ Spiller and Fred Jackson will make the job easier for whatever name they pull out of a hat and name him the starting QB….Steve Johnson is a solid WR
….but hey, the defense will be alright, yes??? And then Stephan Gilmore goes out for half the season, Jarius Byrd is holding out….least Mario Williams is collecting a paycheck still J …when the Bills get the healthy bodies on the field they do foot a heck of a defense….and now a DC that’s not living off a rep that Leon Lett and Charles Haley built for him…things are still on the way up in Buffalo, it’s just bumps in the road tend to turn into lunar craters when you go wide right and stick your foot in the crease!!!
Projected Record: 9-7
…..and then we have the other team in the AFC East….drama….rotating QBs (Sanchez has been bad…but Geno Smith has been WORSE and not ready for the NFL…least to start the season)…uncertainty on the offense….this all seems familiar…just minus the whole Tebow nonsense….it really almost is a broken record in Florham Park….at least there’s a running game with Chris Ivory (as long as he stays healthy) and Bilal Powell, and improvement at TE if Winslow makes the team….Santonio Holmes should be back…eventually….and at least whoever the QB is here will have some options…that’s a step up from last season, right?
Despite losing Revis (I’ve always felt the cover corner is overrated if you don’t have a pass rush, and the Jets still don’t have a pass rush)…the coach is probably on the way out this year too (there’s a reason Rex is emphasizing his defense this year…he knows he’s gonna be interviewing for DC jobs next year)…the defense should be alright, but I don’t see the playmakers to call them “good” ….there’s just too many uncertainties, “what if’s” and “maybe’s” here….and look I kept the insults to a minimum this year….must be the lifestyle change J….and then Mark Sanchez also gets shattered in garbage time of a pre-season game and all I can do is laugh at them….again……
Projected Record: 5-11