Sunday, September 02, 2007

2007 NFL Preview

I guess I've been sorta blogging for more than one year now since this is my second preview post. The first didn't work out so well. Still, I'm gonna give it another shot.

AFC East
1: New England Patriots. New year, same old story, sort of. The Patriots will still be on top. They're doing it a bit differently this year. They made a big splash in the offseason. They signed big free agents like Adalius Thomas. But he will be without the help early of star defenders Richard Seymour and Rodney Harrison. Harrison is suspended for using human growth hormones. Tom Brady got a ton of new weapons with Randy Moss, Donte Stallworth, Wes Welker and Kelly Washington, who along with second-year man Chad Jackson will make a terrific receiving corps.
2: New York Jets. I like Chad Pennington. There, I said it. The Jets also have receiver Laveraneus Coles and Jerricho Cotchery. Trading for Thomas Jones from the Bears was a great move. They also have some great young offensive linemen with D'Brickashaw Ferguson and Nick Mangold.
3: Buffalo Bills. J.P. Losman may be ready for a breakout year. He made great strides last year. Lee Evans also became a star receiver. They shipped Willis McGahee away, so will rookie Marshawn Lynch be able to have a big impact? Losing Nate Clements didn't help their defense.
4: Miami Dolphins. They continue to appear to be a team looking for a direction. Ronnie Brown may or may not be able to run the ball 25 times. Trent Green may or may not be able to still play. Ted Ginn may or may not have been a smart pick. Jason Taylor better have another big year for rookie head coach Cam Cameron.

AFC North
1: Baltimore Ravens. While they aren't usually good two years in a row, The Ravens should still remain on top. Losing Thomas shouldn't hurt much if Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Terrell Suggs and the rest of their defense remains healthy. McGahee should help Steve McNair and the offense more than Jamal Lewis could. But, McNair is getting old and rarely stays healthy.
2: Pittsburgh Steelers. Ben Roethlisberger is certainly healthier than last year. But, the offensive line is not. They did a poor job pass blocking last year, then lost center Jeff Hartings. Willie Parker and Hines Ward will remain the top offensive weapons, with the team hoping second-year receiver Santonio Holmes steps up. The great defense lost Joey Porter, but locked up Troy Polamalu long-term. Should be as good as ever. If not, 'burghers will burn effigies of new coach Mike Tomlin.
3: Cincinnati Bengals. Yes, they have one of the most potent offenses in the league. Carson Palmer, Chad Johnson, Rudi Johnson and T.J. Whosyourmama are great. The defense still sucks and they still are losing many battles with the Cincinnati P.D.
4: Cleveland Browns. Maybe Brady Quinn is the missing piece to the puzzle. Maybe he's the franchise quarterback to compliment Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow. There's a good possibility he sucks though. They still have a bad defense and signing Jamal Lewis was a head-scratcher.

AFC South
1: Indianapolis Colts. The Super Bowl champs shouldn't have much of a problem defending their division crown. The usual suspects are all there; Peyton Manning, Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne. Joseph Addai can carry the load for the departed Dominic Rhodes. But they did lose some key players, including ones from the already not-so-great defense. The division is sown up. Beyond that, who knows?
2: Tennessee Titans. I can hear Titans fans saying, "Why Vince? Why be on the cover of Madden '08?" If the Madden Curse strikes again, they are toast. They don't have good receivers or very good backs so they are asking their young quarterback to take on too much responsibility. Wait. Why do I have them ranked second?
3: Jacksonville Jaguars. This is why the Titans are 2. The Byron Leftwich era is officially over. He wasn't bad. But he sure was never too good. David Garrard will now hand the ball off to Maurice Jones-Drew, and try to hit their mediocre receivers. Defense sure is good though.
4: Houston Texans. Have they ever been out of fourth-place? David Carr is gone and Matt Schaub is the QB. Schaub is unproven, and their offensive line is still awful. Andre Johnson is a good receiver, but they way overpaid for washed up Ahman Green.

AFC West
1: Denver Broncos. Surprise! Not what you were expecting, was it? This is a solid team all over. Great corners with Champ Bailey and Dre Bly. Strong front too. Jay Cutler is good and solid for a second-year QB. Always run the ball well, and have good receivers with Javon Walker, the ready to break out Brandon Marshall, and old man Rod Smith. Plus, Mike Shanahan is a great coach.
2: San Diego Chargers. They could be ready for a fall after everything went so well during the regular season, and so awful in the postseason. If they had kept Marty Schottenheimer they'd win the Super Bowl this year. Norv Turner was a bad hire. LaDanian Tomlinson can't keep this up forever. And really, they aren't as talented as many will tell you.
3: Kansas City Chiefs. They take a step back getting rid of Trent Green. Begrudgingly had the job to Damon Huard. Larry Johnson is a work horse, but Tony Gonzalez is getting older and they still have a bad receiving corps. Offensive line got older and their defense remains bad. Still, could be worse. They could be...
4: Oakland Raiders. The poster franchise for disfunction. While filling his vacant head coaches job, Al Davis was turned down by the quarterbacks coach from USC. A position coach, in college, was actually considered for the job, and turned it down. You don't need to know anything more about the Raiders than that. They can only get coaches (Lane Kiffin) with no other offers, or players (Duante Culpepper) no one else will sign.

NFC East
1: Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys are probably still the most talented, though not complete, team in the NFC. Tony Romo is their question mark. How well will the second-year starter play? Great pieces on offense and defense should carry them to a division crown, and maybe beyond.
2: Philadelphia Eagles. Never the most talented team, just one that keeps racking up wins and division crowns. Donovan McNabb never gets the offensive weapons he should have, but still gets it done. Defense a bit weak up front too. Yet Andy Reid always has his team a top finalist.
3: New York Giants. People dismiss this team because they lost Tiki Barber. Brandon Jacobs is a good runner though, and Reuben Droughns can help him. With Eli Manning, Plaxico Burress, Amani Toomer, Sinorice Moss and Jeremy Shockey they have more offensive talent than most realize. Defense is their weak side.
4: Washington Redskins. Dan Snyder may just be one of those owners. No matter what you try it fails. Overpays for every free agent bust he can get his hands on. Jason Campbell may have a bright future, but he's getting Clinton Portis and Santana Moss at bad times.

NFC North
1: Chicago Bears. Defense is very good, though a bit overrated. It helps when you feast on the competition in this sorry division six times a year. Rex Grossman is bad, and the rest of the offense is mediocre. Don't look for a Super Bowl appearance, but can win the division again.
2: Detroit Lions. I don't really want to put them here, but I'm buying a bit of hype. Jon Kitna can throw the ball. And with Roy Williams, Calvin Johnson and Mike Furrey, he has guys to throw it to. He's wrong that they will in 10 games. Maybe eight.
3: Green Bay Packers. Brett Favre has to retire. The team is not ready. They will have no running game this year and not good receivers. Why does he keep coming back?
4: Minnesotta Vikings. I was thinking about something to say about this team, but can't come up with anything. They actually may be the most untalented team in the league. There's just really nothing to say here because they have no one.

NFC South
1: New Orleans Saints. I see no reason they can't repeat here. It turns out they really have talent. Sure the secondary isn't good, but they can overcome that to win what suddenly is not such a good division.
2: Carolina Panthers. Remember last year when tons of people, like me, were picking this team to win the conference? Well, who's to say they don't do this year what people thought they would do last year? They do have talent. Two good running backs, a solid quarterback (usually) and maybe the best wide receiver in the game. Throw in good play from the defense, and who knows.
3: Atlanta Falcons. Something happened with this team in the offseason. I can't remember what. Must have not gotten much media attention. I guess the player in question wasn't too important to this team. I'm sure they'll be fine. It's not like he's going to prison or they don't have great wide receivers.
4: Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Having 27 quarterbacks on your roster only makes sense if they're all good. Defense is no longer the powerhouse they used to be. Mediocre players on offense isn't gonna recapture this team to glory. Maybe returning to league laughingstock they were only able to dig themselves out of thanks to Tony Dungy.

NFC West.
1: St. Louis Rams. I think this is the year the Rams leapfrog the Seahawks to gain control. The offense is still great with Steven Jackson, Torry Holt and Marc Bulger. New tight end Randy McMichael could be big contributor. Defense is not great, but they are talented enough to win this division.
2: Seattle Seahawks. Let the decline begin. I say this is the year Shaun Alexander begins to slow. Matt Hasselbeck takes a step back. And Mike Holmgren thinks about walking away again. Things are gonna start to go wrong.
3: San Francisco Forty-Niners. The offense was defintely starting to come around. Shame Norv Turner left. Clements can help the defense, and I still think the offense can score, given the defenses in this division. Could make a wild-card run.
4: Arizona Cardinals. People are excited in the desert. It's easy to see why. Matt Leinart throwing to Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin. Edge running the ball. New coach in Ken Wisenhunt. What's not to love? Oh yeah. They're still the Cardinals, the most god-awful franchise in the NFL, and maybe pro sports.

AFC Wildcards: Pittsburgh Steelers and San Diego Chargers
NFC Wildcards: Philadelphia Eagles and Seattle Seahawks
AFC Champions: Baltimore Ravens
NFC Champions: Dallas Cowboys
Super Bowl Champions: Baltimore Ravens
Coach of the Year: Mike Shanahan
MVP: Marc Bulger
Defensive Player of the Year: Troy Polamalu
Offensive Player of the Year: LaDainian Tomlinson
Comeback Player of the Year: Ben Roethlisberger
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Patrick Willis
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Calvin Johnson

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