Sunday, September 7, 2008

The NFL, in brief (sort of)

If you've learned anything about me over the past couple months, you'll know that I'm not into the precise or minor details. I'm into theories and large ideas. And this applies to my love of football as well.

So, I won't even venture to guess the records of any of the NFL teams this season. Who wants to be tied down to such specifics (this is partly why I've never done fantasy football? But I've got some general thoughts about each of the team, including a rough idea of where they might finish in their respective divisions. In a way, this is my NFL preview - short and sweet, not that I can't deny in a few months.

AFC East
1. New England - Seems obvious to write but it's hard to do better than 18-1. The Pats will be among the league's top five teams but they're losing their grip at the top. Also, I think their offense will be easier to figure out this season and their defense is a tad overrated - their back seven are pretty mediocre.
2. New York Jets - Adding Brett Favre to the mix can't hurt, and the Jets seem to be a well-coached unit. But the Jets don't really have anyone who jumps out at me on offense or defense. A pretty boring team.
3. Buffalo - Everyone keeps waiting for the Bills to get over the hump but, maybe, just maybe, it ain't gonna happen. The defense should certainly be improved - couldn't get much worse - but Trent Edwards ain't that dude at QB.
4. Miami - The Dolphins will be much improved, and to be honest, I wouldn't be surprised if they get into the playoff mix. It's tough to bet against a Bill Parcells-led franchise. Chad Pennington and Ricky Williams certainly make them a better team.

AFC North
1. Pittsburgh - The Steelers could be a contender. But if their O-line issues aren't worked out, then I'm worried about Ben Roethlisberger making it through the season and that pretty much means no ball in January. The defense is beastly, though.
2. Cincinnati - All the hype about Ocho Cinco notwithstanding, the Bengals aren't as bad as people think they are. Cincy can still put some points on the board. Would be nice if they had a top-flight running back though. Chris Perry ain't gonna cut it.
3. Cleveland - I'm really not sold on the Browns, Derek Anderson, Jamal Lewis or their revamped defense. Cleveland is overhyped and in for a fall.
4. Baltimore - For the life of me, I don't have any idea how the Ravens are going to score any points. And the D is showing signs of leakage. Having a former special teams coach as your head coach sounds cute until the season actually starts.

AFC South
1. Indianapolis - I definitely think the Colts are playing possum. And I think Tony Dungy and Peyton Manning wouldn't have it any other way. Having Dwight Freeney back is a huge boost.
2. Jacksonville - Still don't think they have what it takes to dethrone the Colts. But the Jaguars are probably the team I'd pick if the NFL had sanctioned street fights. Jacksonville just beats the hell out of its opponents - that's why it was disappointing to watch the Jaguars play so soft in their playoff loss to the Pats last year.
3. Tennessee - I'm worried that Vince Young is going to have another career setback, having to learn another offense. And it'd be nice if the Titans got him someone to throw to. But the Titans are almost as physical as the Jags and one of the league's best coached teams. They'll always be a threat as long as Jeff Fisher is on the sideline.
4. Houston - The Texans are fooling people, ya'll. Houston is going to be terrible. What, exactly, is it that the Texans do well?

AFC West
1. San Diego - Much like my beloved Houston Oilers of the early 1990s, I wonder if the Chargers are snake-bitten. At some point, San Diego will come off the rails. It could be this year, especially since Norv Turner is involved. But the Chargers have enough overall talent to win this weak division.
2. Denver - This might be one of the worst Broncos offenses in years. Mark my words. On defense, as usual, Denver will struggle. Seems like the Broncs have reached a plateau.
3. Kansas City - Nah, not with Brodie Croyle they ain't. And I wonder if Larry Johnson, like Christian Okoye before him, has simply run into too many brick walls. Giving away Jared Allen can't help either.
4. Oakland - I still don't know what they hell they're doing out here but the Raiders, like they always are under Al Davis, should be fast. I've never thought JaMarcus Russell was going to be all that good. And the in-fighting between Davis and Lane Kiffin can't help: the Raiders are the Clippers of the NFL.

NFC East
1. Dallas - Lots to like about the Cowboys except their tendency to come up short in big moments. That locker room has got to be all sorts of crazy, too. But they've got the sort of outlaw talent up and down the roster Dallas had - and nourished - during its Triplets heyday of the '90s. 2. Philadelphia - If Donovan McNabb is truly healthy, the Eagles should be contenders once again. He'll need No. 1 pick DeSean Jackson to make a difference. And the Eagles are almost always solid on D under Jim Johnson.
3. New York Giants - Classic case of a Super Bowl hangover. And the loss of Osi Umenyiora is a huge blow. But I've got to think Eli Manning will ascend into one of the league's elite QBs. NY will be in the mix but not quite good enough to overtake Dallas or the Eagles.
4. Washington - I think Daniel Snyder will be looking for a new coach at the end of the year. Or, at the least, thinking about it. The Redskins look terrible. And I feel bad for Jason Campbell - the consistent inconsistency has to be stunting his growth.

NFC North
1. Minnesota - Eveyrone's chic pick to make a Super Bowl run. I'm not so sure, especially since Tarvaris Jackson is a huge part of the equation and Adrian Peterson runs so hard that he's bound to break down. But the Vikings have enough to be the class of this division.
2. Chicago - I think last year's dip was a fluke. Which doesn't mean I think the Bears are a good team. They can't be and have Kyle Orton at QB and Matt Forte at RB. But the D should be studly again, and that's enough for second place in the North.
3. Green Bay - The offseason debacle with Favre has made it unimaginably uncomfortable for Aaron Rodgers up there, I believe. I also think the Packers caught a lot of breaks last season. They're overrated in a way that the Browns were.
4. Detroit - The Lions could make the playoffs or stink all over again. Given their history under Matt Millen, I'll go with the latter.

NFC South
1. Carolina - At some point, the Panthers have to live up to everyone's expectations? Right? I think Carolina will be able to run the ball, throw somewhat efficiently and play some occasionally nasty D.
2. New Orleans - The Saints definitely have some talent on offense but they're still weak on the other side of the ball. And I don't care about what anyone says about Reggie Bush, the boy can't run the ball between the tackles.
3. Tampa Bay - Ugh. Not much to say about the Bucs. They're weak at all the skill positions and the O-line is pretty average. It's amazing Jon Gruden has skated by on this rep as an offensive guru for so long. I'm just not seeing it.
4. Atlanta - Lots of growing pains in store for the Falcons this season. But things can't get much worse for this franchise after last year's chaos. Also, Atlanta has to have some of the worst skill-position talent in the NFL this season.

NFC West
1. Seattle - Same old story: Seahawks win this division going away. But not good enough to make any real noise in the playoffs.
2. Arizona - On paper, the Cards seem to have all the tools necessary to finally shake their losing ways. But, of course, games ain't played on paper. And I see the Kurt Warner-Matt Leinart musical chairs game going on all season long. * Btw, I understand that Anquan Boldin wants to get paid. He's right. But, seriously, what has his individual success really meant for Arizona?
3. St. Louis - Things can't go as badly as they did last season, can they? The Rams ain't gonna scare anyone but they shouldn't be that terrible again. Hard to imagine that, with Marc Bulger, Torry Holt and Steven Jackson prominently involved.
4. San Francisco - J.T. O'Sullivan is the starting quarterback. And, really, nuff said.

And I'm only giving my Super Bowl pick: Indianapolis over Dallas. Don't hold me to this.


John P. Araujo said...

In my fantasy league, the player with Tom Brady was crying (as I imagine many fantasy players with Brady were doing). With Brady out, what's your prediction for the Super Bowl now?

blackink said...

Oh, I'm still picking the Colts over the Cowboys in the Super Bowl. I figured karma would catch up with the Pats, one way or another.

What you think?

John P. Araujo said...

My guess is the Colts and the Cowboys. It's pretty danged hard to overcome the absence of a Tom Brady, I would think. Those karma fairies would have to work overtime to help get them to the Super Bowl now!