Thursday, September 08, 2005

Sportszilla's Action Packed NFL Preview
By Zach

We here at Sportszilla and the Jabber Jocks want to try and provide for all your sports needs. Hence, we give you our 2005 NFL Preview:

AFC East

Buffalo Bills
What’s good: They’ve got a very good young running back in Willis McGahee, talented receivers in Eric Moulds and Lee Evans, and one of the better young defenses in the league.
What’s bad: Sure, Drew Bledsoe was a statue in the pocket. But at least he was a proven statue. J.P. Losman is basically unproven as a starting quarterback, and if he struggles the rest of that offense will go nowhere. Additionally, they lost massive defensive tackle Pat Williams, and Ron Edwards isn’t going to turn any heads.
What we think: While there’s plenty of talent, teams with rookie QBs rarely make the playoffs (besides Pittsburgh last year). If the defense can keep them in games and Losman can be decent, they might be a playoff team, but we’re slotting them at 8-8 and third in the AFC East.

Miami Dolphins
What’s good: Ricky Williams is back in the fold, which means at the very least Tibetan Buddhists and marijuana dealers will root for this team. Beyond that, they still have a competent defense, and Chris Chambers and Randy McMichael are guys who can catch the ball.
What’s bad: They’re starting Gus Frerotte at QB.
What we think: They’re not the worst team in the AFC (thank you Browns), but they’re still terrible. Fourth in the East, and 5 wins at best.

New England Patriots
What’s good: They’ve won 3 out of the last 4 Super Bowls, and still have Tom Brady, Corey Dillon, and most of all Bill Belichick. Furthermore, they’ve got Richard Seymour signed, and this team never seems to struggle.
What’s bad: They lost their offensive (Charlie Weis) and defensive (Romeo Crennel) coordinators, as well as linebackers Tedy Bruschi and Ted Johnson. Ty Law left via free agency as well. Plus, it’s damn hard to win 3 straight Super Bowls. No one’s ever done it.
What we think: You can’t pick against the Champs. Until someone proves they’re better, we’re taking them to win 13 games and the AFC East.

New York Jets
What’s good: They had a very good defense last year, and they added Ty Law to it, plus John Abraham is now in camp. Additionally, most of the guys on that defense are young and could easily improve over last year. Curtis Martin turned back the clock last year and showed he was still an elite back. Doug Jolley is a big upgrade over Anthony Becht at tight end, and Paul Hackett is gone as offensive coordinator.
What’s bad: Their offense is still mediocre. Pennington has struggled with injuries, their receiving core isn’t particularly impressive, and Martin is gonna get old one of these years. On defense, they’ve struggled to replace Jason Fergusen at DT and they still don’t have a strong safety.
What we think: This is a damn good team. It might be the third best team in the AFC. But they’re not better than the Patriots until they prove so on the field. We say 11 wins and the wild card.

AFC North

Baltimore Ravens
What’s good: They’ve still got one of the best defenses in football. Jamal Lewis should be healthy and motivated after spending part of the offseason in jail. Brian Billick is a good coach.
What’s bad: Kyle Boller is a terrible quarterback. Their receivers aren’t particularly good, since Derrick Mason is old, Clarence Moore has a bad first name, and Mark Clayton is a rookie. Todd Heap is good, but he’s hurt half the year every year.
What we think: That defense is good, but Boller is gonna handcuff them. T-Bone says 10-6 and division champs, but Ben and I both think 8-8 and third in the North.

Cincinnati Bengals
What’s good: Rudi Johnson is a really good running back. Chad Johnson is a really good receiver. Their defense is talented and young, and Carson Palmer looks to be turning into a nice young quarterback.
What’s bad: They’re the Bengals, first of all. Second, they have two ex-Broncos at cornerback. Plus, their jerseys are hideous.
What we think: For the first time in a while, Cincinnati is has a legit chance to go to the playoffs. 9-7 and second place in the North.

Cleveland Browns
What’s good: They’re not the 49ers.
What’s bad: Just about everything else. It starts at the QB position, where Trent Dilfer is good…as a backup. As a starter: yikes. Their offense is terrible, their defense is worse, and Romeo Crennel is going to be pawning his Super Bowl rings by Week 9.
What we think: If they win 4 games Romeo Crennel deserves a national holiday. Last place in the entire AFC.

Pittsburgh Steelers
What’s good: They went 15-1 last year and didn’t lose many players from that team. Their defense can dominate games, and they’ve got a serious home field advantage.
What’s bad: Ben Roethlisberger looked like a scared rookie in the playoffs against the Jets and Patriots, and hasn’t impressed in the preseason. Jerome Bettis and Duce Staley are both getting old, and Plaxico Burress has moved on to greener pastures.
What we think: If the offense can be decent, they’ll go back to the playoffs. Unfortunately, we think they’ll be worse then that. Big Ben is going to be in for a rough sophomore year.

AFC South

Houston Texans
What’s good:: David Carr, Andre Johnson and Dominick Davis are a solid trio on the offense. Defensively, they added the talented Philip Buchanon to go along second year man Dunta Robinson.
What’s bad:: The O-line still stinks. What good is Carr’s talent if he’s always on his back? Davis has injury concerns yet again. Again, do you want an injury plagued back teamed with a porous O-line? Outside of the corners, the defense is a question. A bad front seven will kill even the best secondary.
What we think:: Most people think they’ve take a step forward this year. I think they’ve taken a step back. Getting over the 6- 8 win hump is one of the hardest things to do in the NFL.

Indianapolis Colts
What’s good:: The best offense in football is back intact. Manning, James, Harrison and Wayne. They were the 2005 version of the “Greatest Show on Turf”.
What’s bad:: Whenever that show goes on the road. The Colts offense has yet to show it can score on a good defense outdoors. Manning had a career year. Odds aren’t good he’s going to be as dominant this year. Neither will the Colts’ offense. The defense outside of Dwight Freeney is always a question.
What we think:: They’re the class of the AFC South. But without homefield or an AFC Championship game in San Diego, they’re not coming out of the conference.

Jacksonville Jaguars
What’s good:: Byron Leftwich has all the tools and heart to become one of the game’s top young QBs. Jimmy Smith didn’t slow down last season despite getting another older. They’re other young receivers, Reggie Williams and converted rookie Matt Jones have a ton of talent. Their young defense was one of the game’s best last year.
What’s bad:: Smith is a year older. Williams and Matt Jones unproven. Can Fred Taylor come back from having surgery on both knees? Can Leftwich stay healthy for a full season or will he become the next version of Steve McNair?
What we think:: A trendy pick a year ago, they’ll improve further this season. They’ll win 10 games and give their first round opponent a nasty fight.

Tennessee Titans
What’s good:: Drew Bennett had a breakout season in 2005. The team is deep at back, with Chris Brown and Travis Henry. Billy Volek is a good backup which is important given the current fragility of Steve McNair.
What’s bad:: Everything else. McNair probably won’t make it through the year. Tyrone Calico hasn’t proven he can stay healthy. The defense is just one giant question mark. Unfortunately the cap has killed this team. Kevin Dyson and Super Bowl overtime are just a distant memory at this point.
What we think:: The second worst team in the AFC. Oh how the mighty have fallen.

AFC West

Denver Broncos
What’s good:: Ashlie Lelie had a breakout 2005, surpassing the 1,000 receiving mark for the first time in his career. As usual, the Broncos will probably have a 1,000 back. DJ Williams is an up and coming linebacker. Jake Plummer will win them some games with his arm.
What’s bad:: Plummer will cost them more games with his head. The defense is the Cleveland Browns remix; it’s the same exact 2004 Browns’ front four with the exception of Trevor Pryce. The secondary is still terrible. I’m not sure if Champ Bailey is overrated, or just overworked considering the lack of pressure their line generates.
What we think:: A lot of people like the Broncos to win the west. I don’t see it. A lesson in life: if you move the Browns to Denver and call them Broncos, they still stink. This is the worst team talent wise in the division and that will show with an appropriate last place finish.

Kansas City Chiefs
What’s good:: Trent Green and Priest Holmes are still the cornerstones of one of the NFL’s most dynamic offenses. Their receivers still stink, but it doesn’t seem to matter. The fact Tony Gonzalez is the best offensive tight end in the league helps offset that. Larry Johnson appears to be a solid backup when Holmes inevitably misses time. The defense is reportedly much improved.
What’s bad:: Hasn’t this defense supposedly been improved each of the last two years? I’ll believe it when I see it. They’re relying on two aging corners, Patrick Surtain and Sammy Knight. Not a recipe for success.
What we think:: They’ll score. They’ll score a lot. They’ll give up points. They’ll give up a lot of points. That means they’re a mediocre 8-8 and won’t be playing January football.

Oakland Raiders
What’s good:: Randy Moss, Jerry Porter, Ronald Curry. That’s pretty damn good. Lamont Jordan has shown flashes of being a solid back when given the chance in New York. He should have a good time of it with all the time spent paying attention to that deadly wide receiving corps.
What’s bad:: Kerry Collins doesn’t inspire confidence. Isn’t it usually the QB who makes wide receivers, not the other way around? The defense is offensive. They dealt away their best player in Philip Buchanon and didn’t replace him. T-minus four weeks until Charles Woodson reverts to “headache” status.
What we think:: They won six games last year. Are Moss and Jordan worth 4 wins? Not with the defense getting worse. In short, see the Chiefs. They’re essentially the same team.

San Diego Chargers
What’s good:: The best running back in the NFL plays here. Maybe you’ve heard of him. The city also houses 2005’s two most surprising players, Drew Brees and Antonio Gates. The defense surprised many last year and is up and coming.
What’s bad:: Marty Schottenheimer is still coaching these guys. I don’t love Brees and I doubt Gates will put up the same numbers he did last year. While the defense should improve, it was exploited by good offenses last year.
What we think:: They’re probably the best team in the West. But that only means they’re probably a 11-5 team, which will have them out in the second round at the latest. Then again it’s Marty Ball, so they’ll probably end up getting upset by Jacksonville in Round 1.

NFC East

Dallas Cowboys
What’s good: Julius Jones showed last year that he can be a very good running back in this league. Jason Witten is quickly becoming one of the best tight ends in football after a great season and should be a favorite target of new signal caller Drew Bledsoe who joins his former coach Bill Parcells. Dallas had a great draft picking up DeMarcus Ware, Marcus Spears, and Kevin Burnett. Combine them with free agents signings Jason Ferguson, Anthony Henry, and Aaron Glenn and Dallas should improve on their sixteenth ranked defense from a year ago.
What’s bad:: Do Anthony Henry and Aaron Glenn really improve a shaky secondary? Aside from Roy Williams, there isn’t anyone to really fear back there. Parcells is changing the defense to a 3-4 for the first time in team history. Can it work? Will a wide receiving combination of Keyshawn Johnson, Terry Glenn, and Peerless Price do the job?
What we think: Dallas made plenty of changes but is it really an upgrade? They will finish 7-9 and take third in the East.

New York Giants
What’s good: Michael Strahan, Barrett Green, Gibril Wilson, and Chris Snee are all healthy. Antonio Pierce’s arrival from Washington gives the Giants a tackling machine in the middle. Plaxico Burress should give Eli Manning a big target to find in the red zone but he can always hand it off to Tiki Barber who led the NFL in yards from scrimmage last season.
What’s bad:: If Eli Manning got hurt, they would be done. Tim Hasselbeck is a terrible backup and beyond him is the Hefty Lefty; Jared Lorenzen. The G-Men are still not sure who is starting alongside William Joseph in the interior of the defensive line. If Strahan or Osi Umenyiora were to go down, their backups are rookies Justin Tuck and Eric Moore. The secondary has to get more interceptions.
What we think: They are getting better and could finish 9-7 at best but will probably be 8-8 and finish second in the NFC East again.

Philadelphia Eagles
What’s good: The NFC Champs have remained intact with all ten pro bowlers returning. The defense is one of the best in the NFL and Donovan McNabb is simply one of the best quarterbacks in football. Wide Receiver Terrell Owens set Eagles records across the board in his first season.
What’s bad:: Owens hired Drew Rosenhaus to be his new agent in the offseason and immediately demanded a better contract than the seven year deal worth $49 million last year. He became such a big distraction in camp that coach Andy Reid sent him home for a week. It has yet to be seen if TO and McNabb will get along. With Todd Pinkston done for the year, the wide receiving group is not very deep. Backup running back Correll Buckhalter is done for the year leaving a big drop off from starter Brian Westbrook.
What we think: They are still the best team in the NFC East and will win the division easily.

Washington Redskins
What’s good: Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams has built one of the best defenses in football again. What’s bad: news for other offenses is that LaVar Arrington is back and healthy. Coach Joe Gibbs spent the offseason reshaping the offense to suite the needs of running back Clinton Portis so look for him to have a good year.
What’s bad:: Portis can count on dealing with plenty of eight in the box because there is no passing game. Patrick Ramsey gets another shot at quarterback and will probably have a short leash. Rookie Jason Campbell is waiting for his shot. The only problem is that when Santana Moss is your number one wide receiver, there are going to be problems.
What we think: Very good defense, solid running back, but one of the five worst passing attacks in the league means last place in the NFC East with a 6-10 record.

NFC North

Chicago Bears
What’s good: Brian Urlacher and Mike Brown are back and should elevate the Bears defense into one of the best in the league. Muhsin Muhammed gives the Bears a legit number one wide receiver and rookie Mark Bradley has been impressive. Thomas Jones had a good year rushing for 948 yards.
What’s bad:: Rex Grossman is done for the season again. The Bears turn to rookie Kyle Orton. The offensive line has to improve on the 66 sacks that they allowed last year. Luckily Cedric Benson did end his holdout but he has to steal carries from Jones.
What we think: The offense has to eat up time or else the defense will tire out. They probably finish 6-10.

Detroit Lions
What’s good: They have some of the best young offensive weapons in the game. Running back Kevin Jones was a steal in the latter part of the first round and a trio of Roy Williams, Charles Rogers, and Mike Williams will strike fear into the opposition’s secondary. Hard hitting safety Kenoy Kennedy gives the Lions an intimidating presence in the Lions secondary.
What’s bad:: Joey Harrington was terribly inconsistent last year. But he may stay as starting quarterback thanks to the injury to Jeff Garcia. He has no excuses. The team is not very deep at the corner position as Dre Bly can be beaten by bigger wideouts.
What we think: Harrington continues to have his ups and downs and Detroit breaks the streak of consecutive 10 loss seasons by going 7-9.

Green Bay Packers
What’s good: It’s hard to bet against Brett Favre. The man does it season after season. Javon Walker and Donald Driver is about as good a wide receiving combination as there is in this league. Ahman Green should bounce back after a down year.
What’s bad:: Losing starting guards Mike Wahle and Marco Rivera really hurts. But it doesn’t hurt as much as watching this defense. Darren Sharper may have been getting old but he was still steady at safety. Al Harris should not a team’s number one corner. Aside from Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila, there is not another quality defensive lineman.
What we think: It will be the Packer defense that costs them a playoff spot. They will go 8-8.

Minnesota Vikings
What’s good: Trading Randy Moss relieves the Vikings of a huge headache. Plus, in doing so, they acquired Napoleon Harris from Oakland and signed DT Pat Williams, LB Sam Cowart, and CB Fred Smoot. The offense should be fine thanks to one man; Daunte Culpepper. The quarterback showed last season that he doesn’t necessarily need Moss to be successful having found Nate Burleson as a target.
What’s bad:: Who thought the weakness would be on offense? Minnesota doesn’t have a number one running back and will rely on Michael Bennett, Moe Williams, and Mewelde Moore to carry the load. Also, the Vikings need a find a good number two receiver from Marcus Robinson, Travis Taylor, rookie Troy Williamson, and newly signed Koren Robinson.
What we think: With their offseason, the Vikings rose up to become the best team in the division.

NFC South

Atlanta Falcons
What’s good: They’ve got lots of talent on the defensive line. Patrick Kearney and Rod Coleman each had double digit sacks last year, and their linebacking core is solid as well. Warrick Dunn and TJ Duckett form a dynamic running back combo.
What’s bad: The secondary has some serious question marks, as both Jason Webster and Keion Carpenter are unproven. Then, there’s Mike Vick, aka Ron Mexico. He can do things no other QB can. He can also do some things that no other QB would be caught dead doing. In all honesty, if he can finally figure out how to marry his freakish athletic ability with more traditional quarterbacking skills, he can be the best player in the league. But that hasn’t happened yet.
What we think: The Falcons will take a step back, but they’re still plenty good enough to make the playoffs in the weak NFC.

Carolina Panthers
What’s good: They have the best defense in the NFC. Jake Delhomme is good quarterback. John Fox is a good coach.
What’s bad: The running back situation is a bit unsettled, since Stephan Davis isn’t quite ready to go quietly into the night and DeShaun Foster isn’t quite ready to take over the reins. Steve Smith was hurt all year last year, and since Mushin Muhammad is gone, they’re gonna need Keary Colbert to step up to take the pressure off.
What we think: This is probably the best team in the NFC. They win the South and get home field throughout.

New Orleans Saints
What’s good: Deuce McAllister is a good running back. Of course, they don’t give him the ball enough. Joe Horn is an elite receiver, and Dante Stallworth is an adequate #2.
What’s bad: The defense. Jim Haslett. The numerous inexplicable plays Aaron Brooks makes every year. The fact that their home stadium may never be usable again. They might have to play several of their “home” games on the road.
What we think: As much as we, and the rest of America, would like to wish something else, this team isn’t going to make a miraculous run to the playoffs. They can’t stop anyone, and their offense isn’t nearly good enough to make up for it.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
What’s good: They won the Super Bowl in 2002. Seriously, there’s not a lot here to like. Brian Griese probably won’t be very good this year, and who knows what they’re gonna get out of rookie running back Carnell (Cadillac) Williams. Still, last year’s breakout rookie Michael Clayton could make things interesting.
What’s bad: The defense is getting old, their offensive line is weak, and the truth of the matter is that this team is going to need many more high draft picks to rebuild.

NFC West

Arizona Cardinals
What’s good: They’ve got a pair of very good young receivers in Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald. Betrand Berry had a breakout season last year. Dennis Green has had plenty of success in the NFL. Rookie Antrel Rolle should add some much needed talent to the secondary.
What’s bad: Everyone seems to be forgetting that Kurt Warner is years removed from his MVP days. Rookie RB JJ Arrington has to show that he can be the answer in the backfield. They have some holes on the offensive line. Plus, they signed two former Seahawks as starters. That’s never good.
What we think: This is the trendy pick to win the West. Not gonna happen. Let’s see them prove they can beat San Francisco (0-2 against them last year). Will they be better then last year? Sure. But they’re still third in this division.

San Francisco 49ers
What’s good: Steve Young was inducted into the Hall of Fame during the offseason. Seriously, the defense is actually mediocre. They’ve at least got a bit of talent on that side of the ball.
What’s bad: Off course, the offense is terrible. Alex Smith is a rookie, Kevan Barlow is a perennial flop, their top receiver is best known for an amazing catch he made two years ago, and their other wideout was a Notre Dame QB. Their line is shoddy, too. Plus, the NFL won’t let Mike Nolan wear a suit on the sideline to honor his father.
What we think With the #1 pick in the 2006 NFL Draft, the San Francisco 49ers select Reggie Bush, running back, University of Southern California.

Seattle Seahawks
What’s good: Matt Hasselbeck is a Pro Bowl-calibur QB. Shaun Alexander is the best running back in the NFC. Darrell Jackson is a talented #1 receiver. The left side of the offensive line is the best in football, and the right side is solid.
What’s bad: Notice we didn’t say anything about the defense. Well, it’s not all bad, the secondary is good. But the line hasn’t generated any pressure in ten years, the linebackers are roster filler, and if defensive coordinator Ray Rhodes returns to the booth, they’ll blow numerous games with idiotic play calling.
What we think: They’re not very good, but in the weak NFC West, they’re good enough. They’ll win the division, even if they can’t beat the Rams.

St. Louis Rams
What’s good: Marc Bulger knows how to throw the ball down the field. Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce know how to catch it. Steven Jackson knows how to run it.
What’s bad: The defense doesn’t know how to stop it. And Mike Martz is a lunatic who happens to run an NFL team. Plus, Jackson isn’t the receiver that Marshall Faulk was, so we’ll see if that affects their offense. And their line is mediocre, even with Orlando Pace.
What we think: Again, they’re not very good. But in the weak NFC, they’re good enough. Wild Card.

AFC Playoff Teams:

New England
San Diego
New York

NFC Playoff Teams:

St. Louis

T-Bone’s Super Bowl

Carolina over New England

Ben’s Super Bowl

New York Jets over Philadelphia

Zach’s Super Bowl

New England over Carolina


Blogger David Arnott said...

You have some spam above me, I see...

Ravens: I don't buy them because Boller sucks (as everyone knows), and because I agree with the notion that Lewis's prison time will prove to be detrimental. Not that he'll suck, but that he won't be elite.

Colts: Who wins in an AFC Title Game between the Colts and Jags, in Jacksonville? I see a lot of parallels between the Capers/Coughlin duo and the Fox/DelRio duo. Maybe it's just me.

Giants: Jared Lorenzen was athletic enough to occasionally run the option out of the shottie at Kentucky (and huge enough to be unstoppable at that level when they needed two yards), no one doubts his arm, and he played in a pro-style passing scheme in the SEC. If he gets a chance to prove his decision-making skills, he could prove to be a solid QB.

49ers: The defense is better than mediocre. They give up more points than they really should because the offense never gets field position. Additionally, I think four wins is extremely likely just because The Drunkard is out as head coach and someone who insists that the team stretch together is running the team.

Super Bowl
Pats beat Seahawks
(because I'm hoping for football's sake that Ray Rhodes will retire for health reasons, and because I REALLY want to see Zach's reactions during that game)

1:45 AM  

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