Saturday, Sep 11 at 7:52 AM
The NFL starts tomorrow, and everyone has an opinion. No big surprise, me too. The thing about the NFL is that relative to other sports, anything can happen. You can make a reasonable argument for most teams that they will be successful or brutal. You can find things that you like or dislike about them all. From there, it’s all about injuries, weather, intangibles, talent- a number of factors that could lead a team to the top or down the tubes.
So here’s my opinion on every NFL team, presented in lame-o “like and dislike” fashion, only I call them “Fan” (as in I am a fan of this) and “Ban” (as in someone, me or fans of the team, would like to ban this). The teams are in predicted order of finish with all my biases presented when warranted.
Fan: The Tom Brady lead offense should be near impossible to stop.
Ban: They may need it as the defense struggled at times a year ago and saw little off season upgrade.
Fan: I like all three of their QBs in the roles they have them in. I like their top 3 WRs and their TE. I expect the defense to be satisfactory as well.
Ban: Do I suddenly feel better about their passing game than their Ricky Wiliams/Ronnie Brown/Kory Sheets/ whoever running game? Yes, yes I do.
New York Jets
Fan: Not living in New York and having to see too many of their games.
Ban: Mark Sanchez, his 20 Interceptions and 63 QB rating. Braylon Edwards’ hands and his ridiculous beard. The fact that they were 7-7 when Cinci and Indy basically laid down to let them skate into the play-offs. I’m just not yet convinced.
Fan: Draft picks like CJ Spiller are how you save a team from the brink of permanent stink.
Ban: JP Losman, Roscoe Parrish, Donte Whitner, John McCargo, Marshawn Lynch, Leodis McKelvin, Aaron Maybin and Eric Wood are the type of first round picks that get you to that brink of stink. And their uniforms, the second worst in pro football.
Fan: c’mon. Manning, Wayne, the always changing always capable defense. The Colts are flat loaded and as long as Manning is capable, they are the favorites.
Ban: Why do they insist on making mediocre Big 10 QBs the Manning back up plan? At some point this is going to steal a season from them.
Fan: They have built a nice program down there with top pros at several positions (QB, RB, WR, TE, DL, 2LB, CB)
Ban: Until they knock off the Colts on a more regular basis, they are the #2 team at best in the division.
Fan: I think VY has turned the corner as a pro.
Ban: I don’t think CJ can do it again, mostly because last year was so huge it would be difficult for anyone to do again.
Fan: I pull for David Garrard, but he’s only had the one big season.
Ban: They don’t sell out their games. They didn’t get Tebow. MJD may be regressing. Their defense is as anonymous as it is mediocre (both very).
Fan: Their hype. Being in Cleveland when the team was stolen, I am a certified Raven-hater, but they are a pre-season darling and if what the mainstream perception of them turns out true, then they will be a heck of a team. A top 5 tailback, 3 top flight WRs and a budding superstar at QB sounds formidable.
Ban: The defensive hype. So many saying their defense is over the hill and may struggle. I find this hard to believe. I think both “hypes” will work out a little off, and the team will still be very good.
Fan: (obvious bias alert) I’m not sure I believe this projection myself, but it has been longer in calendar days since the Browns lost than any other team in the league. (Dating back to a Thursday night defeat of the Steelers in early December 2009). Despite the brutal 5-11 record, the Browns finished 8th in rushing, have changed QBs and this is the second year of the Mangini coaching regime where presumably everyone understands the program.
Ban: The schedule is tough, but this team has been so bad for so long, any NFL game is a “tough” game for them. So really their recent history is the ban here.
Fan: Ochocinco (that’s one word right?) and Owens should be very entertaining.
Ban: Every time you start to burden this franchise with expectations, they fall flat. And their uniforms, the worst in football.
Fan: (bias alert) It’s hard to find a nice thing to say about the Steelers, but Polumalu is back and Mike Wallace has been a find at WR.
Ban: Hard to pick who will QB the team early. The offensive line has been a question mark for sometime as is Mendenhal at RB for now. This obviously is not a bad team, but this is a good division.
San Diego Chargers
Fan: They are a man among boys in the division. For now. Trouble is out there for them (see below)
Ban: I can’t see them losing the top spot in the division, but they will be breaking in a new feature back, a new #1 WR and a new LT on offense. I suspect Rivers and Gates will get them through, but this team could be heading down a bad path if RB Sproles and WR Floyd can’t step up.
Fan: New QB Jason Campbell is a marked improvement over last year’s group of QBs and the defense has the make up (shut down corner, pass rushing OLBs and run stuffing d linemen) of a very good one.
Ban: Injury prone RBs, not a lot of talent at WR. They are the Raiders.
Kansas City Chiefs
Fan: They are putting a nice group of skill position players together on offense with Bowe, McCluster and Charles (who lead the league in rushing over the last month of the season). They at least attempted to add O-line through free agency and the defense seems to be cycling up.
Ban: I am not a fan of Matt Cassel. Their o-line was brutal at times a year ago, as was the defense. Their improvement is far from a sure thing.
Fan: I guess there’s some value in the drama of having two very charismatic, good-looking, popular back-ups with questionable QB abilities behind an uncharismatic goofy looking guy who has performed admirably in his two stops as a pro.
Ban: Not sure getting rid of your playmaking WR, messing with your only effective QBs head all pre-season, suffering a rash of injuries on both sides of the ball and having a young second year head coach could add up to anything but fail for the season.
Fan: Another loaded team, to hate on the Cowboys this season is just that- hate.
Ban: You don’t know who to use in fantasy football outside of Romo. Which RB will be featured, which WR? Is Whitten still a top target? I don’t like this; we need to know who to use on our fake football teams.
New York Giants
Fan: A bunch of no names working in America’s largest city has a certain appeal to it. They move into a beautiful stadium this year. The fact that I don’t know them all by name and they can still be chosen second in this division.
Ban: They are really a bunch of no names. Can you name me the last time any Giant did anything of note on or off the field? I go back to Plaxico Burress shooting himself in the leg. That was in 2008! Eil Manning is the only "name" they have and that is largley due the the last name.
Fan: Old guys! Well, relatively old guys. Now that I am in my 30’s I have a soft spot for guys like me still getting it done. McNabb is 33, Larry Johnson 30, Clinton Portis is 29, so he may as well be 30, Santana Moss is 31, Joey Galloway 39(!). Those are the skill players they are counting on.
Ban: Old guys! While I like the old guys, I worry if they all can still get it done.
Fan: I think this team will be solid and not spectacular. Solid is good right?
Ban: I’m not sure getting rid of McNabb and Westbrook the same year, basically their last decade of offense, was the right move.
New Orleans Saints
Fan: They are the Super Bowl champs, and until they prove otherwise, they are the Cream of the Crop, they rise to the top.
Ban: Is Reggie Bush ever going to step up and become even half the player of his potential. Don’t get me wrong he’s a fine pro, but I think we were all hoping for more.
Fan: Hard not to be a fan of local guy Chris Redman. The Falcons have a nice mix of toughness, skill and athleticism that make them an enjoyable team to watch offensively and defensively.
Ban: I am not completely sold on QB Ryan. I never have been and will be watching to see what I am missing.
Tampa bay Buccaneers
Fan: They won 2 of their last 4 at the tail end of last season.
Ban: They are young all over the field and I am not completely sold on Raheem Morris as their coach.
Fan: Great two headed monster of tailbacks with Williams and Stewart.
Ban: Not sure why this team has become a popular play-off dark horse (if there is such a thing as a popular dark horse). Did you know their first unit scored 0 offensive TDs this pre-season, and Jimmy Claussen’s second unit didn’t fare much better? Meanwhile, the QB they blamed for last season’s offensive collapse and then jettisoned during the off-season was second in the league in pre-season passing rating. This has to portend bad thing for the Panthers.
Green Bay Packers
Fan: Offense is loaded. Defense inconsistent, but good when it’s on. I agree with popular sentiment that this team is near the top of the NFL for 2010.
Ban: For the most part the defense was good in 09, holding teams under 20 in 10 of 16 weeks. Then they had their bad games, allowing 37 to Pittsburgh and a whopping 51 the last time we saw them against Arizona in the play-offs.
Fan: I like Brett Favre. I like that he skips the hard work, but still comes out and shows up on game day. I like that he has gray hair and gets out there to run around with people half his age. I like that he has people mad at him for feigning retirement many times. Some folks never grow up and Favre hasn’t had to.
Ban: This may be the team that falls flat this season. A lot of injuries, an old QB who has got to break down at some point, an average coach; these things…they are not good. I want to put Detroit here, but if the Vikings do hold it together they are the better team.
Fan: They obviously have a wealth of young talent. I watched Matthew Stafford in a couple pre-season games and think he is the real deal as a young NFL QB. Big arm and getting “NFL smarter”.
Ban: Too far to go from where they came to make that serious run yet. They were 2-14.
Fan: I really like some of their parts. Cutler is a massive talent as is Forte, Taylor, Olsen and Aromashodu.
Ban: Classic “sum less than the whole of its parts” team. All that talent and they can’t seem to get it together. Too dysfunctional for me to put much stock in for now.
San Francisco 49ers
Fan: Put me on this bandwagon. Mike Singletary is my favorite NFL, non-Mangini coach.
Ban: Alex Smith. I’m glad he’s at least been able to salvage an NFL career from the brink, but if a game is on the line- I’m probably taking the other guy.
St. Louis Rams
Fan: Stephen Jackson is the best player in the division and the Rams will ride him over the other bad choices in Seattle and Arizona. WR Laurent Robinson is a nice player, if the QBs can get him the ball.
Ban: I like QB Sam Bradford’s long term prospects, but he should be putrid this year.
Fan: Matt Hasselback’s hair. Male pattern baldness is nothing to be ashamed of Matt. I share this blessing with Hasselback. This morning I woke up with a phantom cowlick, like an amputee when they still feel their lost appendage, only for me it was a phantom piece of hair that wouldn’t lay down. A sensation I hadn’t felt in years. I put some phantom gel on it.
Ban: Pete Carroll running to the NFL when things were looking bad at USC. There should be some bad karma for this type of move.
Fan: Beannie Wells’ game, Derek Anderson’s arm.
Ban: Beannie Wells body and Derek Anderson’s head. I sense implosion in Arizona this season.
That’s it, I won’t predict records, I mean, who knows what’s going to happen in these games.
Comments and questions are always welcome either in the space below or at my inbox firstname.lastname@example.org