Wednesday, September 8, 2010

2010 NFL Preview

This article breaks down each team and includes a projection of each team's final record. Following the team-by-team analysis, you will see my playoff predictions concluding with my Super Bowl picks.

1. Indianapolis Colts - The core of the team remains intact, and Bob Sanders is back healthy. Gary Brackett's injury may hurt their linebacking corps but pass rushing will be a strength for this team. The young receivers (Collie, Garcon, Gonzalez) supporting Reggie Wayne's consistency alongside Dallas Clark...and tandem RBs - playmakers all over the place. (Regular season record: 15-1)

Beware receivers going across the middle, Bob Sanders is healthy...but for how long?

2. Green Bay Packers - Aaron Rodgers put up sick numbers last year. Imagine another year of development of Greg Jennings and Jermichael Finley, with a solidified offensive line. The secondary looked better with Charles Woodson and a few young pups in the preseason, despite Al Harris' injury. (14-2)

Aaron Rodgers will be all smiles if he beats the Vikings at least once this year. The Pack has loftier goals, too.

3. New Orleans Saints - The defending Super Bowl champs have everyone returning, so why #3? Have you seen a defending champ repeat recently? Neither have I. Oh, and Drew Brees is on the cover of the Madden game. Bring on the jinx factor, and I'm not buying a French Quarter repeat celebration. Darren Sharper being out six weeks doesn't help either. (13-3)

Oh Drew...the Big Easy didn't want to see you on this cover!

4. New England Patriots - Tom Brady can still throw all over the field. Randy Moss, Wes Welker, Julian Edelman, two young TEs. The problem is, and will continue to be, their defense. Their ability to win high-scoring games will give them a good record, but the running game is horrible and will cost them down the stretch. (13-3)

Eight short months ago, this was the picture. Now healthy, Wes Welker is the key to the Pats' playoff run.

5. Atlanta Falcons - This team is severely flying under the radar. I fully expect them to challenge New Orleans for the division title behind a maturing Matt Ryan. Michael Turner will rebound from an injury-plagued season to provide the balance on offense. Dunta Robinson's name will be remembered this year for his coverage ability. (12-4)

Michael Turner's ability to stay healthy will determine how far this young Falcons team can go.

6. New York Jets - Everyone's favorite to win the Super Bowl. They have every weapon imaginable...oh, except for a proven quarterback, and an every down running back (Shonn Greene can't catch, and LT has aged a ridiculous amount in 2 years). (11-5)

"It's about ****ing time." "Yeah, I know...I see you're still fat."

7. Pittsburgh Steelers - The homer pick...without Big Ben (and his lascivious behavior), they will rely on Troy Polamalu and Aaron Smith to anchor the defense, giving the pass-rushing LBs a chance to destroy opposing quarterbacks. Rashard Mendenhall will run for 1500 yards and 12 TDs behind a good run-blocking O-line (that can't pass protect at all). (11-5)

The 'fro is back in town. If Polamalu is 100%, this defense could again be great.

8. San Francisco 49ers - The Niners? A playoff team? Well...look at their division. They could easily go 5-1 against the pathetic NFC west. Frank Gore is the work horse and Patrick Willis will be a monster tackling machine. The Alex Smith / Michael Crabtree connection is the key to how far this team can go. (10-6)

Mike Singletary and co. need to treat Alex Smith as a caretaker to obtain victories.

9. Tennessee Titans - Vince Young wins games, period. The threat of him running will free up Chris Johnson to continue his monster stats from the 2nd half of 2009. The Titans will need to show improvement along the defensive line with recent departures of Albert Haynesworth and Kyle Vanden Bosch to keep pressure off the secondary. (10-6)

Chris Johnson was a fantasy stud last year. Can he carry his Titans to a playoff berth? (Not without Vince Young growing up)

10. Minnesota Vikings - They have top of the line talent all over the field - Adrian Peterson, Jared Allen, the Williams boys, and some guy who wears #4. Somehow, I think that Favre won't duplicate last year's efforts (33 TD, 7 INT). Sidney Rice's injury will limit the big play capability on offense. (10-6)

You should have kept the mullet, Jared! Hope it doesn't have a Samson / Delilah effect.

11. San Diego Chargers - You're counting on Norv Turner, an arrogant QB (Philip Rivers), a rookie RB, and unproven WRs to win? Forgive me for not being excited, but they are still in the AFC West. Their run defense is terrible, but will still win the division although the gap is closing. (9-7)

The Chargers are pinning an awful lot on their young RB, Ryan Mathews.

12. Dallas Cowboys - The NFC East is brutal, but the Cowboys have the necessary talent to come out on top. The O-line has major question marks based on preseason performance, but look at the weapons on offense - Romo, Jones, Barber, Austin, Witten, Bryant. And, Ware pass rushing with Newman (love the name) providing a shutdown corner presence on the D-side. Scary...but Wade Phillips is the coach. (10-6)

Wade Phillips is America's Team's most prominent cheerleader...but certainly not the best looking!
13. Cincinnati Bengals - The 2009 division winners will be...underwhelming. Did you see how they played against the Jets in the playoffs? Well, Carson Palmer wants to throw the ball more to his weapons, Chad and TO. Problem is...those guys are getting older, not getting open any more. The focus needs to be on controlling the clock with Cedric Benson and letting their top tier defense make plays. Harmony won't be kept, and outbursts from the hotheads will occur as the Bungles go back to mediocrity. (9-7)

Leon Hall and Johnathan Joseph are more important to the Bengals than the aging receivers, Chad & TO.
14. Houston Texans - On paper, these guys should be a playoff team. The reason they won't break through is not their passing game (Schaub to Johnson / Jones is great), it's not their running game (Foster and Slaton will be adequate), it's not their defensive front (Mario Williams, Brian Cushing, and DeMeco Ryans are studs) what's the problem? Gary Kubiak. He saved his job with a win against the Pats last year, but shouldn't have. Don't tell me this team wouldn't be better off with a tough coach (Cowher or John Fox comes to mind). (9-7)

Brian Cushing will be suspended for the start of 2010. Will his panties be in a wad when he returns or have the steroids (hCg) been flushed from his system?

15. Baltimore Ravens - A Super Bowl contender? No. A great team? Yes. Why won't they make the playoffs then? It's called a defense. Baltimore has a very tough start to their 2010 schedule. Don't be shocked to see them below .500 at the start of November and scrambling for answers. Ray Rice is the real deal, but no Ed Reed and an ageless Ray Lewis may finally look older this year, exposing their horrendous secondary. (8-8)

Ed Reed with a ball in hands...a welcome sight to Ravens fan, maybe by week 7.

16. Miami Dolphins - This team could win the AFC west...only problem is, they're in the AFC east. A disciplined, balanced attack on offense won't be enough because it won't fully exploit Brandon Marshall's talents at WR in favor of gimmicky wildcat formations and short passes. Mike Nolan will design a defensive scheme that will make their front seven very disruptive on opposing playcallers. (8-8)

Ronnie Brown made the wildcat a part of the NFL vocabulary. A more traditional offense is in order with Henne to Marshall being a legitimate threat.

17. Washington Redskins - One ego will keep this team from making the playoffs, and for once, that's not Daniel Snyder. It's Mike Shanahan. His handling of Albert Haynesworth has been ludicrous. Big Al may be fat and happy, but here's a little secret - he already pocketed $32M of the $41M that was guaranteed. You can't undo that, Shanny. The other issue is the aging RBs (Portis, LJ) that coach is convinced can still run - mistake #2. Well, at least you have McNabb...but with no one to throw fastballs to. (8-8)

Dumb and Dumber? True, but how about Rich and Richer.

18. Denver Broncos - Why can't the Broncos break above medicority? Well, they traded away problem children (and top talents) Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall in favor of acquiring a squeaky clean image (Tim Tebow). Knowshon Moreno gets dinged up too easily, and the injury to Elvis Dumervil will put Robert Ayres in the crosshairs as the only good pass-rusher on the team. Oh, and Champ Bailey is getting old. (7-9)

This is the future? Hmmm...bad hair aside, Tim Tebow is a fullback and not a pocket passer (see also Matt Leinart's career path).

19. Oakland Raiders - If Jason Campbell can be a stabilizing force, don't be shocked if the Raiders (yes, the team that Al Davis owns) flirts with .500 this year. There may not be a clear cut #1 RB or #1 WR, but their defense will wreak havoc on opposing QBs, keeping them in more games than you would expect. (7-9)

At least if Jason Campbell is sidelined, trainers won't need to buy purple drank to get JaMarcus Russell ready for the game.

20. Chicago Bears - One of the two most difficult teams to get a handle on (along with Philly). Matt Forte had a sophomore slump last year, will he rebound? Mike Martz may be an offensive genius, but that doesn't necessarily translate into wins. Urlacher will be a shadow of his former self with the injury setbacks he experienced last year. (6-10)

Write your own caption on this one...

21. Kansas City Chiefs - Call it New England west, with Charlie Weis joining the rest of the former Belichick regime. So, why can't the Chiefs contend? Matt Cassel. He is not a starting NFL QB (psst - he wasn't even a starting college QB). They will be able to run the ball with a versatile 1-2 punch of Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones. But, they still wont be able to shut down anyone with that front 7. The D-backs will step up, but it won't be enough. (6-10)

This is where Matt Cassel belongs - in a warmup outfit...just like his days at USC (behind Palmer and Leinart).

22. NY Giants - It's hard to believe that it's only been 2 1/2 years since this team hoisted the Lombardi Trophy. Have times changed or what? Brandon Jacobs looks old, Osi Umenyiora nearly lost his starting job, and Plaxico Burress is still in jail. Hakeem Nicks and Steve Smith will be nice receivers for Eli this year and Ahmad Bradshaw will be the work horse on offense. Simply not enough to keep the defense off the field, wearing them out and making the G-men very average. (6-10)

Brandon Jacobs is screaming for more playing time, but he doesn't deserve it.

23. Philadelphia Eagles - The cornerstones of the Eagles perennial playoff runs are gone - no more McNabb or Westbrook. Hello, Kevin Kolb and LeSean McCoy. I expect big things from these guys...just not this year. Kolb won't be on the same page with deep threat DeSean Jackson yet. They've got some nice players on defense (Brandon Graham) that need time to develop. Give it a year and they'll be back. (6-10)
Kevin Kolb may suffer growing pains in '10, but it will be worth it next season.
24. Seattle Seahawks - The slimeball that left USC just before his program went south is once again an NFL coach. Pete Carroll will take Matt Hasselbeck, Justin Forsett, and Mike Williams as his offensive weapons, casting aside TJ Housmandzadeh. Anyone inspired by those names? Me neither. Their defense has...(crickets chirping)...never mind. Bright spot - their division is awful. (6-10)

Pop quiz - do you know this man? I 2006. Mike Williams is creeping back into our consciousness thanks to Slick Petey.

25. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Two years ago, they blew up everything by letting Jon Gruden and the nucleus of aging players go their separate ways. This is year 2 in the recovery plan with Josh Freeman and a pair of untested WRs to strike fear in the defense. Yeah...I'm not on board. (6-10)
Josh Freeman's preseason thumb injury didn't help the maturation of Tampa's young wideouts
26. Detroit Lions - Don't be surprised if this team looks significantly better this year, despite expected woes on the offensive line. The skill positions haven't been this good for the Lions in years (Stafford, Best, Johnson), and the defensive line (Avril, Vanden Bosch) may cover up the weaknesses in the secondary. (5-11)

Calvin "Megatron" Johnson is a freak of nature. Matthew Stafford should be able to find him a few times this year.

27. St. Louis Rams - Sam Bradford has looked great in the preseason against vanilla defenses. The #1 pick has all the tools and he'll need them with this receiving corps. Fortunately, Steven Jackson will take a little heat off the young QB's arm, but it's still year one. This year, it's put up or shut up time for Chris Long and James Laurinaitis. Both guys possess all the skills needed at their D positions, but haven't become household names until this year. A team on the rise. (5-11)

The future is now...just don't get hurt behind that suspect O-line, Sam.

28. Jacksonville - This is the year that tough guy, Jack Del Rio, loses his job. He's a respectable guy, but when you only have one true weapon (Jones-Drew) on offense (no, the other hyphenated guy isn't a stud - Mike Sims-Walker) and nothing of note on the defensive side of the ball, it will be remarkable for the Jags to win more than 4 games. (4-12)

Jack - you might need this suit for your endeavors next year...and not on an NFL sideline.

29. Carolina - All the optimists are pointing to a solid running game and the 2009 record with Matt Moore at the helm (4-1). But, the Panthers are in a very challenging division with limited playmakers on the defensive side of the ball. The loss of Julius Peppers will be profound until Greg Hardy comes of age. Steve Smith continues to be the only bright spot at WR in Charlotte. (3-13)

John Fox can't bear to watch...neither can the rest of Panther nation.

30. Buffalo - There is one ray of hope on this team - CJ Spiller. He will be impressive, but it will be tough with 8 or 9 guys in the box to defend him. Chan Gailey has his hands full with Trent Edwards to Lee Evans being the only viable passing option on the team...yikes. Paul Posluzny and Jairus Byrd are solid players, but not game-changers on defense. Living in western NY, I feel your frustration, Bills fans. Jake Locker, anyone? (3-13)

C.J. Spiller looked awfully good in the preseason. Now all you need is a QB, WR, O-line, D-line, and then some.

31. Cleveland - Mike Holmgren may be a great coach, but Eric Mangini's still in that role (somehow)...and their drafts haven't yielded enough star power to make significant improvement on either side of the ball. Josh Cribbs and Jerome Harrison provide glimmers of hope, but the season-ending injury to rookie RB Montario Hardesty has to disappoint Browns fans. (3-13)

Here's the best QB on the team. Problem is, Josh Cribbs is a WR / RB / KR.

32. Arizona - What a dramatic drop-off from a two-time division winner? That's what happens when you lose a sharp Kurt Warner and replace him with Matt Leinart...scratch that, Derek Anderson. Ouch. The losses will continue Coach Whisenhunt's hairline moving backward. Larry Fitzgerald is begging for a time travel machine to get back to 2008. (3-13)

Larry Fitzgerald's massive hands wish he had a real QB to get him the ball.

Wild Card Round

Pittsburgh 23, Tennessee 7

NY Jets 20, San Diego 10

Atlanta 28, Dallas 10

Minnesota 34, San Francisco 17

Divisional Round

New England 33, Pittsburgh 23

Indianapolis 24, NY Jets 10

Atlanta 23, New Orleans 21

Green Bay 35, Minnesota 21

Favre retires after losing at Lambeau? Fat chance.

Conference Championship

Indianapolis 37, New England 34

Green Bay 27, Atlanta 20

Super Bowl

Green Bay 28, Indianapolis 24

No comments:

Post a Comment