Good freaking God is it already almost Labor Day weekend?!?!?! Fantasy Drafts are going on…hockey leagues are dying out (the one thing I hate about Fall is the end of the Summer of Hockey ….dammit )…..but the good news is it means that the football Sunday is back and that is something to rejoice….no matter how much they are trying to make the NFL Corporate (I could rant for days about this crap with the Draft and now the whoring out of the Sportzzz Entertainmentzzzz of the Super Bowl, since that is the NFL’s logo….leave no dollar exploited)….and I better watch how much I talk about defense in these previews….I might get flagged 15 yards….hell I might even get fined….and as always I like to split the previews in half….might as well start with the weaker conference….into the AFC we go!!!
The winner of this division has been set in stone for over a decade, but it doesn’t mean you can overlook the rest of the AFC East….and yes the Pats do have an easy path of least resistance to a bye and home field in the playoffs (the Colts say HI by the way since their division is actually worse) …this division isn’t made interesting by the Main Event….but by who is going to climb out of the undercard and make the race interesting…or at least be in the Wild Card Hunt as the AFC has gotten a bit better this year compared to last….
New England Patriots:
As I just said…still the class of this Division and it doesn’t look to be going away any time soon….Tom Brady is still as good as there is in football….the receivers have experience now from last year, and maybe Gronk plays half the season this year…HA, add in a deep backfield and the best coaching staff in the game and this offense is no joke….and the defense actually looks legit about improving and making a serious run this year (you don’t throw the money to rent Revis unless you’re serious about going far, Lord knows Revis is the one guy in the NFL who tries to squeeze more money from a stone then his employers do…..)…add in a REALLY easy starting schedule and the Pats are gonna jump out of the box early and leave this division in the dust….same old same old in NE this year
Projected Record: 11-5 (1st)
Like the rest of the AFC East, this team is so damn tough to figure out…an awesome front 4 that lead to a good chunk of the 57 sacks the Bills got last year….a turnover happy secondary that is improved against the run…in other words a defense… *tweet*…personal foul….opening a team preview raving about their defense…..15 yards….and we’re watching you Mackie….talk offense….NOW *ref picks up flag and stares evil-ish*….. *deep breath*…*sigh*….I was about to get there asshats….anyway….a strong, 3-back deep running game (though the Bills seemed to have soured on CJ Spiller, why else do you pick up Bryce Brown?)…a massively improved passing attack (how can you not be better adding Mike Williams and Sammy Watkins to a group of young and full of hope/potential at receiver as is)….they are a bit weak at Tight End….and oh yeah….I didn’t mention the Quarterback….and for good reason…this team is a game manager who can make a play or two (think Alex Smith) away from being an AWESOME team…. EJ Manuel is bringing back memories of past Bills QBs…and no not Jim Kelly….not even Frank Reich…or even the hope a Doug Flutie….he’s bringing back the memories of Rob Johnson….. Trent Edwards….or worse JP Losman (hell last year I caught myself calling him EJ Losman), it’s a damned shame….everything else is in place for this damned team too….hopefully I’m wrong and this kid shows something in his second season….but I’m not sold on it (the Bills aren’t sold on ANY of their QBs since they cut Thad Lewis today too)…but they can play smart football and still win their fair share of games…that’s on the coach….who I’m also not sure about, they’re like the anti-Pats, you trust them because of the QB and Coach, and here that’s the thing you worry MOST about
Projected Record: 8-8 (2nd)
New York Jets:
The Jets did make some splashes in the off-season….they added Eric Decker to a WR-corps in desperate need of an upgrade…and adding Chris Johnson to their backfield is a home-run hitting presence this offense desperately needed…the question is how far long has Geno Smith gone in his second season…and how much patience will the Jets have with Mike Vick sitting on the bench (keep in mind I was never a big Vick guy…no not for the dog pound stuff….I’ve always had issues with his lack of accuracy and over-tendency to run the ball and not make the play with his arms and take unneeded chances)…..*checks with the NFL front office*…. I’m allowed to talk defense now…right?? ….yay!!! …anyway….the front 7 is as good as possible (though I still think they lack the super-elite pass rusher, but they do it through coaching and committee)…..the problem with their defense is the secondary though…injuries….departures..its gonna be hard to dial up the Rex Ryan specials and rely on these four guys to make plays on the back end….the best thing you can say about their secondary is a pass defense tends to be as good as their pass rush so they still have a chance….the Jets did improve and young guys will progress, but the AFC as a whole got better, and even getting to their 8-8 of last year will be a step ahead….even if it looks like a step to the side…its all about the progress of Geno Smith….in that way they’re a LOT like Buffalo….
Projected Record: 8-8 (3rd)
Talk about looking in the mirror…a team that needs to let its QB grow, and rely on the defense (calm down ref…I’m transitioning I swear!)…sounds much like the Bills and Jets don’t it?? The difference is in Miami the offensive line and running game just don’t exist there and that’s as much of the problem with Ryan Tannehill as anything (given a guy like Peyton Manning is fast and experienced enough to get the ball out of his hand quick enough to make the plays, and that factors into the sacks and offensive problems)…. They brought in No-Show Moreno to help the running game….but he got hurt and somehow looked a step behind Lamar Miller anyway… and that’s pretty bad….the Dolphins do boast a strong defense (I don’t know what’s worse…the NFL wanting to fine me…or my GF wanting to “collect” the fine and pocket the money herself….oh heel turns…..)…anyway…no one’s getting my money…well aside of the $9.99 from the WWE NETWORK….oops….writing football previews while watching Raw is a bad idea……anyway, this team will only be as good as the O-Line and QB lets it be….I just don’t think they’re as good as the other teams in the division…..
Projected Record: 7-9 (4th)
A MUCH improved division here…even the Browns took big steps forward (aside of drafting Johnny FAILURE, but we’ll get to that), this division has taken a big step forward after being painfully average last year…improvements are all around…but oddly enough it will be the same old same old up top….
An improved backfield with Le’veon Bell starting the season healthy (and high as a kite apparently, but since he doesn’t play for the Browns the NFL will hurry up and move this situation along quickly…) and a guy to takes his name to heart…Legarrette Blount all 4:20 jokes aside (though I will piss myself if they average 4.2 yards per carry)….this is a good backfield, the receivers (notably Antonio Brown and high-upside rookie Marcus Wheaton)….a steady TE and the toughest QB in the league in Big Ben….this offense is strong and steady….but sorry NFL high-ups…I HAVE to talk about their defense….a weak spot last filled of old timers and lack of speed…that team is gone and people are raving about the newfound speed on this team…..and annoyingly enough this team doesn’t stay down for long (I say that because of the level of spoiled bitch callers on the NFL channel on XM, and the few idiot front runners at the bar too)…..I kinda like seeing the Steelers down….but that ain’t happening this year….this team is legit…and gonna be overlooked by a lot of people (then again those people also probably call Peyton Manning the best QB of all time which is laughable…)…the Steelers will be good this year…..
Projected Record: 11-5 (1st)
Much like the Steelers they had a damn good off-season filling in their holes….most notably in adding Steve Smith to play the old role of Anquain Bouldin, which was horribly missing last year….a healthy Dennis Pitta and Owen Daniels as TE insurance….and this team is going to not only boast a strong offense (damn shame I miss mocking the Pop-Gun Offense)….but maybe the best 2 TE-set in the league now….Flacco can make all the throws but you’re not 100% sold on what’s between his ears either….the biggest question on the Ravens is their running game….the longest carry Ray Rice had last year was his drunk wife from the elevator (and I swear he had to come up for air after three yards) and Bernard Pierce was nothing special last year….and now he’s concussed…perhaps Justin Forsett (who was solid in Seattle) or rookie Lorenzo Sweet Water Taffy…whatever in the hell his long ass name is….let him produce in the NFL and I’ll care about getting his name right….add in a solid defense with some playmakers and good ability to pressure the QB and you have a strong, solid team that should be a playoff contender that will be dangerous if they can fix their running game and balance out their offense
Projected Record: 10-6 (2nd)
Alright…upon further review (does this mean I need to call the NFL War Room in NY too….I hope not, I can’t afford the sponsorship the league demands….hell they might be hitting me up for a rights fee for even doing this preview…)…anyway, after looking at the Bengals roster again….it looks a lot like more of the same, the only addition to the offense is going to be rookie Jeremy Hill, who’s only going to do spot duty to fill in for Gio Bernard in spots and not much else….don’t get me wrong, AJ Green is as good as they come when it comes to receivers, Marvin Jones is solid and the Bengals can run a ton of 2 TE sets too….but this is the same team that stumbled into the division because Baltimore and Pittsburgh stunk….and the one and done in the playoffs trend is troubling too…the Bengals don’t step up against better teams….another solid defense, but everything this team does the two above them do better….good luck giving all that money to Andy Dalton like you did….maybe he can fix that massive ugly he calls a face with it….I don’t see this team going anywhere this year….they’ll be just good enough to miss the playoffs….maybe they can move to the AFC South and keep it interesting for the Colts….
Projected Record: 8-8 (3rd)
….and then there’s Cleveland….the second they sniff a chance at hope and potential ….Brian Hoyer tears his knee….sliding….hear that all you “QB slide for safety” people…..he tore it sliding (then again anyone who takes longer than a month to recover from ACL surgery I laugh at anyway at this point….can’t help it J )…add in all the Johnny Manzell idiocy….showing himself as an immature clown doing the money sign getting drafted 23rd overall….seriously?? As done as I am with Michael Sam (and no worry we’ll get to HIM in due time)….I LOVED the money mocking when he sacked his sorry ass….he’s just not ready and he’s screwed with the reps that Hoyer should have had to get ready to start this season (it is uncanny how Cleveland drafts the same pile of garbage in that same spot again and again and again isn’t it?)….at least the Browns loaded up on the scrap heap of WRs to fill in for Gordon…or play on the other side if this suspension EVER happens….. Austin, Hawkins, Bennett and Burleson….someone’s gotta catch the ball here….and the TE is still damned good (though his numbers MIGHT take a hit with Norv Turner being in Minnesota now)… Ben Tate and Terrance West in the backfield is a drastic improvement over last year’s bad back by committee approach….and a strong defense with 2 good corners and a strong pass rush…this team could be much like Buffalo…if they get the QB right they could be good….sooner or later….it’s just not this year and not with a murderous start to the season (at Pitt, NO and the Ravens)…it’s gonna be hard to recover from that 0-3 start….at least this team is starting on going the right way….well except for this idiot promise of a two-QB season….that crap NEVER works…..
Projected Record: 6-10 (3rd)
Quite possibly the weakest division in football, this one is easy to write about….rave about the Colts….crap all over the rest….there’s promise and potential in all the other teams…its just like the old expression goes….”Potential don’t buy the groceries”….and this is why there’s three empty cupboards in the AFC South…..
A very good team in any conference or division in football….it’s funny how I view running backs as dime a dozen (and I still do), but there’s a couple of teams out there running the ones worth a nickel and still trying to get a $1.50 out of them….hi Trent Richardson!! I was high on him this year….full year in camp and a chance to learn the system….all that crap….and then you hear about hesitations, doesn’t hit the hole right, doesn’t block….it’s amazing how he fell off the cliff so FAST after his rookie year (guess Norv knew what he was doing in Cleveland after all….well almost….they did trade a bust in Trent for a bigger one in Johnny FAILball…heh), hopefully having an awesome WR/TE group keeps teams from stacking the box and MAYBE Richardson can be useful with the 5 or 6 man box and do just enough to keep teams honest….and with TY Hilton, Reggie Wayne coming back and adding Nicks to the receiving group….opposing teams damn well better think pass first when they go 3 WR sets on them….and its now or never for Trent (or Ballard or Bradshaw)….this offense might be as good and deep as it gets if the running game does its part…..and now for the defense….and another reason I’m infuriated with the NFL this off-season…. Robert Mathis takes a fertilization agent to get his sick (and possibly dying) wife pregnant before its too late and these morons see this and suspend him for four games…..sorry guys that’s NOT the kinda performance enhancer we’re looking for…..I get the need to keep it “clean” (which is a joke anyway….I say let ‘em all sauce…it’s their bodies and no wonder so many ligaments tear anyway…most of us would sauce too if it meant the difference in mega-bucks and joining the Geek Squad too…don’t lie)…their defense doesn’t have to be great….it has to be good enough…and it looks like it will be once Mathis gets back from the NFL Gestapo doing it again…..add in the golden ticket of playing 6 games in this division and four more with the NFC East….the Colts will win a LOT of games this year….
Projected Record: 12-4 (1st)
….and no one else will have a winning record in the AFC South….the Jags did end the year at .500 after starting 0-8 last year and finally cut the cord on Blaine Gabbert…thank God for that…and now it’s Chad Henne being the placeholder for Blake Bortles….but man this offense looks pretty brutal…it’s the all-white team stud RB in Toby Gehart and a whole pile of projects, suspensions and no one knows at WR….least TE Mercedes Lewis is not only an awesome 70s black exploitation film name….but he’s a damn steady target there….the O-Line is young and rebuilding (that can be good…or bad)…and a youthful defense that rallied and improved last year can only get better…..you’re really picking a name out of the hat trying to make one of these three teams somewhat decent this year…and I’ll take the team that showed something at the end of last season and the hopes of a rookie QB who’s not already counting the dollars taking the reins once he’s ready….plus I can’t make all three teams 4-12 right?? I’m going with the hot hand from last year….
Projected Record: 7-9 (2nd)
….the best thing I can say about Jake Locker is…hey….he stayed healthier than Sam Bradford this year…..not that this took much…he’s never really had top-tier talent to throw too….Kendall Wright and his 2 TDs might be the most unknown 1,000 yard receiver in football last year….Nate Washington is solid and McCluster is a neat slot guy who can return kicks and use his speed on occasion to make big plays…. Walker is more blocker then receiver Tight End (I wonder if Jimmy Graham cringes every time someone says the words “Tight End” still… )… Shonn Greene is a good back when healthy and everyone is VERY high on this Skanky Bishop kid who can be an electric runner in the Chris Johnson mold (at least they hope so)….and with nothing really special to talk about on their defense…this is a blah generic to bad team in a generic to blah to awful division….it all depends on how healthy Locker can stay…and that when he goes down Charlie Whitehurst doesn’t have a heart attack from the shock of hearing “you’re in kid!”….that might be the biggest problem with this team…its TOO generic for its own good….there’s no special players here who can do anything special…..and that leads to a bland team with a crappy record….
Projected Record: 6-10 ( 3rd )
So wait, you’re gonna tell me this team was the worst in the NFL and last year….got WORSE at the QB position, their top offensive player doesn’t want to be there anymore and I’m supposed to say something good about them??? Not a chance….I don’t care much for Clowney and I’m sure he’ll be good on this team and the defense might even be able to make some plays and get some sacks and turnovers…but this offense….good God…and they lost Owen Daniels too…this team is gonna be a MESS this season….though this Raiders/Texans game is gonna be five star anti-football GOLD….maybe Schaub gets confused and throws to the Raiders thinking he’s back on Houston…ha….I shoulda saved that for the Raider preview….damn….this is truly a team starting over on offense…unless Foster has something amazing left in the tank…but I have my massive doubts….this is gonna be a train wreck on the level of the opening trailer scene for Jonah Hex was (in case you missed it, it starts with a train wreck on the side of that actual movie…)…this team has talent…but not in the places you NEED it to win in the NFL….and it’s gonna be an UGLY year this year….
Projected Record: (4-12, 4th)
People love to look past this division because of all the hype and nonsense thrust at Peyton Manning, but don’t forget that THREE playoff teams came from the AFC West last year….and also the team that simply became known as “Seattle’s bitch” and the reason the NFL freaked out and panicked because OMG A TEAM WON A SUPER BOWL PLAYING DEFENSE….HOW CAN WE MARKET THAT!??!?! NOOOOOO….LET’S SCREW ALL THE RULES THAT ALREADY MAKE IT DAMNED IMPOSSIBLE TO PLAY DEFENSE AS IS….argh, I hate the NFL as much as I enjoy their games…seriously….anyway….I have to talk about these teams before I am blinded by the glare of Peyton Manning’s five head when he turns left…..
Teams that shatter as many offensive records as the Broncos did last year ALWAYS take a big step back (part of that tends to be they beat up on a fruitcake division the year before….and they had TWO of them in their own AFC West which was fairly awful….and the no-defense division known as the NFC East last year)….this year they play the NFC West, and while the Broncos didn’t get a Super Bowl Parade, they will get a yellow-flag celebration as the powers that be wage ALL OUT WAR on the evil thing called defense….this will help the Broncos much…what won’t help them is some of their key departures….Moreno, while glass and tending to be ineffective as a runner was a decent pass catcher and a good blocker (we all know Peyton don’t like to be hit)…. Eric Decker, while not the answer for the Jets is a solid #2, and even more so with Welker getting smashed in the pre-season…Monte Ball should be ready to carry the load of balancing the offense….and Julius Thomas is a prime red zone target….this team might still lead the league in offense, but running the score up on the lesser teams ain’t gonna be there this season….so consider the record books safe…for now…..hey I kisses the asses of the Bronco offense enough….can I mention their defense now?? ** flag**…. GODDAMIT!! Anyway….I might as well earn my 15 yards right?? Gone is Champ Bailey (a good thing, he’s close to finished anyway) and Talib is an upgrade at that spot…and I guess I can talk about Demarcus Ware now since it’s still only August and his disappearing act doesn’t hit till the game is on the line…..I laughed when they signed him simply because now they have a defensive version of Peyton Manning…puts up ALL the numbers….and disappears when the moment is big….but it’s one more guy to account for to spring Von Miller (who should be all healed up and good stuff….it’s only a knee injury)…..a little better on defense….and a bit of a step back on offense….still good enough to run through this division and all the big outlets will be kissing their ass and overrating them all season long….typical Peyton Manning season indeed….
Projected Record: 11-5 (1st)
San Diego Chargers:
The Chargers did catch a lot of people off-guard last year….Ryan Matthews was mostly healthy, Phillip Rivers was GOOD under the new offensive system and Keenan Allen was a rare standout receiver in his first year…more key additions like Donald Brown and healthy WR’s coming off of IR from last year and this looks like a strong and potent offense (maybe even….possibly…better than Denvers?? Time will tell….just an out loud thought there for you) …Allen, Brown, Royal and Floyd is as good a top 4 WR’s as you’ll see….good God…KC will wish they had just ONE of those guy…. Anotino Gates is still around but his career is winding down …good thing they have Green looking ready to replace him….the front 7 is good (and remember this is the team that first took Denver down last year)….they claim adding Flowers is an upgrade….that tells you how bad the secondary was last year…and with defense becoming damn near illegal in the NFL….why bother devoting time and energy to it?? The Chargers look to be in a prime position to return to the playoffs and maybe beat up on the Bengals again…ha….they’ll be fun to watch this year!!
Projected Record: 9-7 (2nd)
Kansas City Chiefs:
I had the Chiefs a bit higher before I started not wanting to ride them too hard for last year being a “fluke” and an “easy schedule season”….they do have some talent, and Jamaal Charles is the most valuable non-QB in football (with McCoy being the only other guy close)…and there’s not much else there to spread the ball too….Fasano?? Eep…. Avery?? Eeww….and it’s funny how as the higher Bowe gets off the field…the lower he sinks on the field….the offensive line is short 3 starters from last season…and no new skill position help was drafted or signed this off-season….at least the defense looks intact (well minus Brandon “Toast” Flowers, which is an upgrade)…the pass rushers are as good as it gets, Eric Berry is classic play making safety…..and the Chiefs are gonna need those 7 defensive TDs again, since only Charles found the end zone more often last year….this might be the evening out season where you see where the Chiefs really are right now…about average….
Projected Record: 8-8 (3rd)
After taking last season off to get their team out of its salary cap hell (God I wish Dallas would do this)….the Raiders went out and did some spending….Maurice Jones-Drew (God knows why they didn’t just keep Jennings) …. Justin Tuck… James Jones…. You have a position on the field….the Raiders threw a few bucks at it…..in all irony, they threw some money at a quarterback…but the mother of all interception tossers himself actually jumped off and picked off the money intended for an NFL QB….that should at least make the Raiders more fun to watch, even if they aren’t any better….though while in Houston all you got was the Matt Schaub pick-6 burger….angry Raider fans might blow up his car….hell they might not even wait till he’s not in it to do it….like I said….fun times in Oakland….no wonder the NFL wants them out of there…it’s scary when a team’s fans are more violent than their players J…and at least until the games go live, this should be a better defensive unit….it depends on how all these signings mesh and play together…and actually care since they got paid and all….I dunno….this division’s not the toughest in the world, but the NFC West means four losses for them….. and this rebuild is gonna take a while….outside of Kalil Mack (I swear to God NFL, throw that flag one more fraking time and I’m giving you a goalie stick enema with it!!)…..there’s not much to build around here….when that happens things might actually start to look up in Oakland….or LA…..San Antonio…..maybe they can replace the Bills in Buffalo?
Projected Record: 6-10 (4th)
We’re half way home!! Give me a few days, I’m gonna work as best I can on getting the NFC done soon since we have Week 1 to preview in just a few days as well….it’s good to be back writing and sniping again about football….just a matter of having the time of NOT being in work or going to hockey games….I’ll get used to it again!!!