- Z: Cleveland Browns, as in "zig-zag." The Browns looked great at the end of last year and brought in Jake Delhomme, who's good for a good game or two. It's all about inconsistency, though, as there's nothing to say they will be able to put together a whole season, considering their division.
- Y: Detroit Lions, as in "young." They have some talent, starting with the three offensive weapons in Matthew Stafford, Jahvid Best, and Calvin Johnson. I don't buy that they can make any kind of leap this year, but they can finish in third in the NFC North? Sure.
- X: Arizona Cardinals, as in "xenophobia." Ok, that's more for the state than the team, but the team has to be afraid of their newcomer at quarterback after Kurt Warner retired. They could be better than expected, but they should be really, really bad.
- W: Chicago Bears, as in "who we thought they were." You think they have a QB that is too much of an ass to buy into Mike Martz's offense? You think Mike Martz hasn't actually had a good offense in years, anyway? You think it's only minutes until their best defensive players get hurt? Well, crown their ass, then.
- V: Denver Broncos, as in "verisimilitude." Did we have to suspend disbelief when they started out 6-0? Well, it turns out we actually didn't. Do we have to suspend disbelief that Tim Tebow is somehow going to make them into a good team after they lost Brandon Marshall and have running back problems? Probably not.
- U: Washington Redskins, as in "unknown." Everything tells me that the Skins are going to be worse than many people think, which means that they'll probably be good. There's a lot to like, but Albert Haynesworth aside, Donovan McNabb has never been the best locker room guy. I'm seeing some chemistry problems with an already fragile talent base.
- T: Carolina Panthers, as in "transition." Steve Smith has injury problems. Julius Peppers and Jake Delhomme are gone. Matt Moore has shown some flashes of being a good quarterback, but not yet.
- S: Kansas City Chiefs, as in "surprise." Young team, decent quarterback, good backfield. I'm not saying that they'll win the AFC West, I'm just saying I wouldn't be surprised if they did.
- R: Houston Texans, as in "risk." As in "pick them at your own." They have a giant bandwagon. They have a division with the Titans and Colts.
- Q: Philadelphia Eagles, as in "question mark." Kevin Kolb was great in his short time as starter last year while McNabb was injured. Andy Reid's offense is always good and they have speed around Kolb. I'm not buying that they will be consistent enough or that the defense will be good enough to win in that division.
- P: San Francisco 49ers, as in "playoffs by default." That division is horrendous. The 49ers have a nice defense and a great running back. Alex Smith was decent last year and Tim Crabtree is a star. I have a feeling that we won't really know how good they are until they get destroyed by Minnesota in the first round.
- O: Atlanta Falcons, as in "overachieved two years ago." They are mediocre. Good enough to make people pick them, but not good enough to beat out the better East and North teams to get into the playoffs.
- N: Pittsburgh Steelers, as in "nil." Peter King picked them to win the Super Bowl. Their actual chance? Nil. Karma is a bitch. See Patriots, New England and Steelers, Pittsburgh (2009 version).
- M: San Diego Chargers, as in "my gut feeling." The Chargers are the team with which I disagree with people the most. No Tomlinson, no Vincent Jackson, no Antonio Cromartie and his eight-kid cheering section. They have Norv Turner as a coach. I'm seeing a drop-off.
- L: Cincinnati Bengals, as in "look at me! Look at me!" Carson Palmer is low-key. His wide receivers? They call themselves "Batman and Robin." I can't decide between "Constant and Distraction" and "Wildly and Overrated." Maybe Robin is apt since this team laid a big fat egg in the playoffs last year.
- K: New York Giants, as in "King Eli." Eli Manning may have the most underrated weapons in the league around him. Sure, they collapsed after a good start last year, but the bonafides are there. I'm seeing the potential for big things.
- J: New England Patriots, as in "Jurassic." Time has passed the Patriots by. They were embarrassed at home against the Ravens in the playoffs last year. I'm not buying their defense. They still have no running game.
- I: Tennessee Titans, as in "In Vince We Trust." This team goes as far as Vince Young takes them. I believe. From here on out, every team is a playoff team.
- H: Miami Dolphins, as in "Henne's house." I believe in Chad Henne even more than in Vince Young. I think the Dolphins take a big leap this year, with an offense that should be much better than you think and a fine defense. I also think the AFC East is also a little more up for grabs than it appears.
- G: Minnesota Vikings, as in "go for broke." This is presumably the Vikes' last chance for the immediate future to win the ever-elusive Super Bowl. The defense is good. The offense has an aged Brett Favre (playing all year this year), no Sidney Rice for half of the year, and a migraine-addled Percy Harvin. Playoff team, but nothing special.
- F: New York Jets, as in "feel good story of the year." No, not because they're going to come out of nowhere to win one for a fan base that hasn't seen a Super Bowl in 42 years. Because everyone, I assume, hates them and with a shaky QB, a questionable O-line (if Hard Knocks is to be believed), and a gimmick defense that Peyton Manning shredded in the AFC Championship Game last year, I'm seeing them falling a bit short of expectations.
- E: Dallas Cowboys, as in "everyone wonders why Wade Phillips still has a head coaching job." The Cowboys are loaded on offense with Dez Bryant looking to replace the pathetic and annoying Roy Williams and the only team besides Baltimore with three legitimate backs. They have loads of talent on defense, especially up front. They have Wade Phillips as their head coach. Are you buying into them as Super Bowl picks?
- D: New Orleans Saints, as in "Dap." I give them all the respect in the world for winning the Super Bowl, especially in how they were able to come back. I haven't even soured on them, now that they've won and won't be the same feel-good story. It's just really, really hard to repeat.
- C: Green Bay Packers, as in "command performance." I basically see the Packers as last year's Saints. Their offense should be nearly unstoppable. Their defense should be good enough. They have a great home field advantage. Your NFC champs.
- B: Indianapolis Colts, as in "boring." Everyone hates to pick them because they're always so good. They're not really going anywhere. Until proven otherwise, they have to be the favorites to win every time they step on the field unless it's weeks 15-17.
- A: Baltimore Ravens, as in "assuming jinxes don't actually exist." They have three Pro Bowl receivers, a QB who began to "make the leap" last year, three good backs including one that is a force of nature regardless of his size, a secondary that is better than last year (whatever that means), and a front seven that is better than last year and will make the secondary even better. Their schedule, particularly at home, is very easy and the other teams in their division are slightly above average at best. I'm joining the masses in picking the Ravens to top the Packers in the Super Bowl.
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
NFL 2010: Z to A
We're counting down this year's NFL teams from Z to A, with each team brought to you by a different letter, Sesame Street-style. There are thirty-two teams but only twenty-six letters, you say? The Rams, Bucs, Seahawks, Bills, Raiders, and Jaguars are brought to you by the letter "suck."