Spread the word – football is back!
That’s all I kept telling myself this past weekend as I watched the Hall of Fame Game between the Buffalo Bills and the New York Giants.
Man, it felt good to watch something other than baseball for a change. Man, it was really nice to see a few tackles be made and to hear the quarterbacks go through their cadences at the line of scrimmage.
The pace of play was awful. It was a typical preseason affair with sloppiness, has-been and never-was players all over the field.
But it was football, and more importantly, it was a prelude to what is to come – the NFL regular season and also the college season (my preferred choice for football).
So to celebrate the occasion, I decided this week to dedicate my column to our country’s favorite sport, and more importantly the teams we care about most – the NFL squads and the teams within the SEC.
So I decided to break out the crystal ball and tell you everything that you need to know about the above-mentioned 46 teams.
OK, OK, maybe I’m not going to tell you EVERYTHING – more like a Cliff Notes version. I will summarize all of the NFL teams in 25 words or less.
What can I say? This is the newspaper business. Space is sometimes at a premium.
But here goes:
Buffalo Bills – The Bills paid a fortune for Sammy Watkins. He’s a monster, but other depth chart holes will cripple team again in 2014-15.
Miami Dolphins – Expect a typical Dolphins team – just bad enough to miss the playoffs, but just good enough to be in the middle of the NFL Draft.
New England Patriots – Tom Brady is on the decline. ESPN will never admit it, but it’s a fact. That defense better show up in a big way.
New York Jets – You don’t like Rex Ryan because of his cockiness. But the dude wins games. Expect the Jets to overachieve again and maybe reach the playoffs.
Baltimore Ravens – Giving Flacco about $30 million too much will hamper the Ravens’ future. Being well-coached can only take you so far in today’s NFL.
Cincinnati Bengals – Would be my favorite to win it all if not for quarterback Andy Dalton. That guy is a fraud, and everyone (including the Bengals) knows it.
Cleveland Browns – I am all aboard Manzielmania. I can’t wait to see my favorite college QB play his hand against an NFL defense. It’ll be a complete circus.
Pittsburgh Steelers – The Steelers usually don’t fail in two-straight seasons. We expect a big-time comeback from Big Ben and his boys in this wide-open division.
Houston Texans – Houston is still among the top rosters in the NFL in pure talent. With a new coach and a new QB, we expect success.
Indianapolis Colts – Man, was I wrong about Andrew Luck. I called him a bust. He’s actually a star. The Colts have a shot as long as he’s there.
Jacksonville Jaguars – Do I even have to waste my time with this one? These guys are a dumpster fire covered in cow manure. They’ll win four games max.
Tennessee Titans – If Jake Locker can stay healthy, the Titans have a shot. The problem is Jake Locker doesn’t ever stay healthy.
Denver Broncos – In Peyton Manning I trust, there’s no way the Broncos don’t win 10-plus games in 2014-15. He’s too good, and the AFC is too bad.
Kansas City Chiefs – Year one for Andy Reid was promising, but I expect a regression to the mean. You can’t win every close game over a long period.
Oakland Raiders – The Raiders’ big-time move of the offseason was acquiring Matt Schaub. Somewhere Al Davis is looking down and smiling at this level of ineptitude.
San Diego Chargers – Another sleeper pick to win the entire AFC if the chips fall the right way. Philip Rivers continues to be an unappreciated QB in the NFL.
Dallas Cowboys – The Cowboys’ offense will be fine and will score 28-30 points per game. The challenge will be whether that anemic defense can survive.
New York Giants – Breaking news – Eli Manning was just sacked again. Drafting Odell Beckham will mean nothing to New York if they don’t protect Eli better this go-round.
Philadelphia Eagles – Is Chip Kelly a true NFL wizard or will his offense be exposed by coordinators now that they’ve had time to study? We’ll find out.
Washington Redskins – The Skins fired Shanahan but will soon learn their problem is really RG3. He’s oft-injured and disliked by teammates – expect another implosion in 2014.
Chicago Bears – The Bears kept the wrong quarterback, paying their career loser an absurd amount of money. Cutler hasn’t won at any level and will lose big again this season.
Detroit Lions – Can Stafford, Megatron and Reggie Bush break through and reach the playoffs with a first-year coach? I think they have a chance to make waves.
Green Bay Packers – With Aaron Rodgers and Eddie Lacy, the Packers will be one of the most complete teams in the entire NFC. Defense will decide their fate.
Minnesota Vikings – It’s such a shame that Adrian Peterson’s prime is being wasted by a Christian Ponder-led team. He, and the NFL fans, deserve so much better.
Atlanta Falcons – An elite QB overcomes an inferior roster and wins 10 games. Last year proved that Matt Ryan isn’t elite. Falcons improve, but still struggle in 2014.
Carolina Panthers – Refer back to the Chiefs. Can any NFL team truly win every, single close game two years in a row? Without Steve Smith, I say no.
New Orleans Saints – Barring major injury problems, the most talented roster in the division. Would be absolutely shocked if New Orleans was not in top-half of NFC.
Tampa Bay Bucs – Some are high on Lovie Smith’s bunch in 2014, but I am not one of those people. I think they are a year or two away.
Arizona Cardinals – Carson Palmer needs to quit forcing things and just protect the football. That defense is good enough to do enough to win most games.
San Francisco 49ers – The window is closing on the 49ers, and training camp injuries have piled up. It could be a tough go for the always-tough Western team.
Seattle Seahawks – What can’t Seattle do? Seriously – find me a place on the depth chart where these guys aren’t elite. They’ll easily win 10+ games yet again.
St. Louis Rams – Much like Tennessee, the Rams are being held hostage by an oft-injured QB. The talent is there, but it all derails when Bradford goes down.