National Football Conference: 2007:
The Eagles are hands down, the best team in this division.
Defense is strong, and Donovan McNabb is in great shape, and will be motivated by the drafting of quarterback Kobb out of university of Houston.
The Dallas Cowboys are the overated team in this division.
Can anyone cover a wide receiver?
With the changes in the head coaching staft, comes a more relaxed, country club like atmosphere.
Let me know how that works for ya.
Giants are being sold short by most publications, but not here.
A more aggressive defense will shows signs of improvement as the season go's on.
Eli Manning should do well, even though the Giants running game is suspect.
I see the G-men fighting for the playoffs, but most likely will fall short.
If you can not rush the quarterback,
and you have a difficult time stoppng the run, then you can not expect to go far in this league.
Washington Redskins will not have a good year in 2007.
Chicago Bears~ This is a extremely weak division. Bears are only team here that can play defense, and play it well. There were no improvements made for Rex Grossman's offense.
Look for Beas in post season to be "one and done".
Minnesota Vikings~ Brad Johnson will do a steady job quarterbacking the Vikes. Chester Taylor will prove to be a solid find at running back, but there is little else to get excited about.
Detroit Lions~ The drafting of LB Ernie Sims and SS Daniel Bullocks will pay dividends eventually.
Offensively, Lions gave up on Joe Harrington, but I believe the major problem lies with the blue-chipper wideouts, Roy and Mike Williams.
These guys are clueless and proving to be bad draftday choices. John Kitna is brought in to play quarterback, but the future will belong to second year draft pick from uConn, Dan Orlovsky .
Green Bay Packers~ Perhaps a bad move for Brett Favre
not to move on, there is nothing to work with here. Ownership made no off season moves to improve life in a Green Bay huddle.
Defense can not be as bad as it was in 2005, Pack did draft to improve defense, but don't expect overnight success.
Carolina Panthers~ Losing games early in the 2005 season put Carolina behind the eight ball when post season rolled around.
The Panthers were forced to play "road warriors", which caught up with them by time they played @ Seattle in the NFC Championship.
Last season we all found out that defenses can not cover Steve Smith. This year , Carolina's passing game gets a huge lift with the signing of Keyshawn Johnson. Wow! Think about it!
Smith and Johnson will form the best wide receiver duo in the entire NFL ! This combo, with Keyshawn playing his role as the possession receiver, makes Carolina's passing game deadly. Carolina also quietly drafted D'Angelo Williams, runningback out of Memphis.
Williams is a can't miss future star in this league, and that future will get a chance this season, to get off the ground.
Carolina still has a superb defense. Keeping Jenkins healthy is a key.
The schedule is kind to them early this year, and the Panthers should be able to avoid getting off to a slow start.
That being the case, it s going to be very difficult keeping the Carolina Panthers out of this years Superbowl.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers~ Tampa solved their QB problems last year as Chris Simms emerged as top level quarterback. "Cadilac" Williams leads a potent ground attack. Williams establishes himself as a premier runningback should he stay healthy.
The defense is solid and getting better week by week, a John Gruden trademark. Tampa has a good mess of talent, and perhaps even more important, seem to have good team chemistry.
Atlanta Falcons~ With the addition of Lawyer Milloy and John Abraham, the Falcon defense will give teams nightmares across the league.
With the offense focused around Michael Vick, their s no chance of the Falcons going anywhere. Quarterbacks can run first in college, not here!
New Orleans Saints~ Adding Roman Harper DB, 43rd player taken in the NFL draft out of Alabama, and Omar Stoutmire, should bring improvement to a weak secondary. Defense see's improvement, but not enough for Saints to contend.
Drew Bree's brings stability to the offense, and Reggie Bush brings speed o the ground game.
Seattle Seahawks~ Last year I thought Seattle was a good team who took advantage of a easy division schedule. Hawks proved me wrong in the post season as they emerged as the Conference best.
This year Seattle will again win this division, but it will not be the cake walk it was last year, thus, getting homefield advantage will not be that easy.
Arizona Cardinals~ Key question will be in 2006, how well will the Cardinal defense play?
With the drafting in recent years on the defensive side of the ball, the answer should be , well enough to compete. Arizona adds Edgerin James to run the ball, to compliment a strong passing attack. Kurt Warner has plenty of weapons to work the ball up and down the field. Drafting TE Leonard Pope out of Georgia is going to make this organization look very good. Pope is a hugh target at tightend. His size and ability is going to gve defenses fits.
Matt Leinart was the 10th player drafted in April, Leinart is talented enough to take over this football team in 2006, should Kurt Warner get injured. Cardinals in 2006 are headed for post season play.
San Francisco 49ers~ I am convinced that the San Francisco 49ers are rebuilding this football franchise successfully by way of the draft the past few years. This year, that improvement will lead to a better won-lost record. Improvement made for 2006 will not be earth shaking, but like I said, this franchise is headed in the right direction. Norv Turner will get good results on offense, and Turner will help shape Alex Smith into a fine pro quarterback. No cellar this year for the 49ers.
St Louis Rams~ Sometimes you have to take a step backwards in order to improve, such is the case of the 2006 Rams. There are plenty of new faces on defense, and rightfully so. Rams defense was a outright joke in 2005. It will take time for this defense to blend well and perform as a unit, but look for defense to show improvement by time the second half of the season rolls around.
Look for these teams to be playoff bound from the NFC.
Superbowl bound~ Carolina Panthers
American Football Conference
New England Patriots~ In 2005, Bill Belichick had to mix & match just to put a lineup on the field, most weeks. Injuries definitely played a key role in preperation from week to week.
Still, New England was able to survive the regular season, finishing with a 10-6 record, before whipping Jacksonville 28-3 in the first round of the playoffs, and then losing @ Mile High stadium to the Denver.
New England in the off season made many changes.
Gone are David Givens, Willie McGinest, Tyrone Poole, Tim Dwight, Christian Fauria, and yes, ~ Adam Vinatieri. For a organization that has won three of the last five Superbowls, it must be said that the Patriots are not just laying back shinning their Superbowl trophies.
Tebucky Jones has been brought in to sure up the defensive backfield in 2006.
Pats on draft day set the tone for the upcoming season by drafting Minnesota runningback Laurence Maroney. Pats plan own dictating tempo this year. They will look to establish the run with Maroney. From what we have seen in camp and preseason, this could be the best ground attack that Bill Belichick has ever had in New England. The Pats, once they get you to play run, will take full advantage, and Tom Brady will hve much success throwing the ball down field. With their second pick, New England drafted Chad Jackson, WR , Florida.
Just another weapon for Tom Brady to hook up with.
New England of coarse, will not have the difficult schedule in 2006, that they have played in recent years. In fact, when I compare New England's schedule to the other serious contenders in the AFC, it is easy to see the Pats winning the division, and erning a first round bye.
Miami Dophins~ Nick Saban and the Dophins are now most "experts" choice to be the team to beat in 2006. Quarterback problems are solved with the signing of Daunte Culpepper. Ron Brown is now the #1 back as the fish part ways with Ricky Williams.
I agree tht Nick Saban is headed for major success on this level. Miami's future is bright, and in 2006, I expect the Dolphins to be playoff bound, but do you really believe that Daunte Culpepper is going to make the big play in post season against the elite competition found in the AFC? I don't.
In fact, I have been more impressed with the progress made by Joey Harrington, who comes over from Detroit. Perhaps the change is just what Harrington needed. Time will tell.
Look for the fish to have a very good season, but don't expect any games in January.
Buffalo Bills~ Marv Levy is now in the front office, Dick Jauron takes over as head coach.
Draft day saw Buffalo concentrate their efforts on defense. Needs in the secondary were addressed with the drafting of Donte Whitner, the #8 player taken in the draft from Ohio State. With the #26 pick the Bills took John McCargo, DT, NC State. Next, Buffalo grabbed Ohio State's Ashton Youboty, Ko Simpson, South Carolina, both DB's. In fact, Buffalo drafted defense with six out of their first eight picks. This is going to set the ground work for a talented defense that will be schooled alot early in 2006, but will prosper in the long run as this defense grows together.
Don't expect much this year, but the Bills have the right blueprint for a successful future.
New York Jets~ Eric Mangini is definitely the right man to take over the Jets, who are in a rebuilding mode, and shape this team the way he see's fit from the grond floor up. In 2006, this team has no offensive weapons to fear.
The Jets with the fourth player taken in the NFL draft grabbed D'Brickshaw Ferguson, DT , out of Virginia, to anchor the Jets O-Line for years to come. Nick Mangold, center, from the Ohio State university, was the Jets next draft day choice. Jets also drafted defense with later picks. Mangini is laying the foundation for the future for a team that hasn't had a taste of glory since the NFL set up their only Superbowl moment in 1968-9, which gave the AFL credibility, leading to the merger of both leagues.
Their will be no glory in 2006, but Rome wasn't built in one day, and the Jets will not be built in one season.
Baltimore Ravens~ Baltimore coach Brian Billick gave former Cal quarterback, Kyle Boller, plenty of time to establish himself as this teams quarterback & leader, but, now the sand has run out on young Mr. Boller's hourgass, for the Raven, is hungry.
Steve McNair is now the new gunslinger in town. He is joined by his posse', already saddled up and ready to ride lead by a old friend, Derrick Mason, who is now joined by a desperado from the Arizona territory, TE Todd Heap, and a swift young lad from the Bayou country, Mark Clayton.
Defenses better get out of Dodge, Deadwood, and Baltimore by sundown.
Mike Armstrong comes ridding into town from the Rocky mountains to give support and balance to a already well respected ground game which features Jamal Lewis.
Ray Lewis is still the Law in these parts, his deputies, Ed Reed, Chris McAlister, and Terell Suggs, will be joined by newly deputized lawman , Trevor Price, who will be giving out badges to some new recruits taken in April's draft. From the Oregon trail, the #12th player drafted, Haloti Ngata DT, will help enforce the law at the line of scrimmage.
When the stagecoach leaves for Miami in January, its the Baltimore Ravens who will be sitting tall in the saddle on the trail to the Superbowl.
Pittsburgh Steelers~ Its tough to repeat. Its a different animal of hunger that requires the intensity needed to win back to back Championships.
With this offense losing the likes of Jerome Bettis, and Antwaan Randle El, I believe repeating is going to be very difficult for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Ben Roethlisberger is completely healed and ready to show everyone he is back and all is well, but with less weapons, and a tougher schedule, it isn't going to happen. Playoffs? Most likely.
Cincinnati Bengals~ I do not question the health status of Carlson Palmer . Without Palmer, should he not be able to play, the offense is in the hands of Anthony Wright. Ouch! But from what we have seen so far in preseason, Palmer looks like he will be alright to go.
Bengals will sneak up on nobody this year, and the schedule is not the creampuff they played last year. A winning year in 2006 for the Bengals, but overall its a step backward from last years success.
Cleveland Browns~ Romeo Crennel has now handed to quarterback duties over to Charlie Frye, now in his second year. Frye will be a very successful quarterback at this level, bt in 2006, expect growing pains.
The Browns did bring in some veterans this year who have won in the past. The likes of Willie McGinest, Ted Washington, LeCharles Bentley, Kevin Shaffer, and Joe Jurevicius, will have a positive impact on a young growing team that just might surprise fans this year. The Browns play in the toughest division in the League, thus, we pick them to finish fourth, but beware, usually when you are wise enough to bring aboard experience talent that was won before, good things happen rather quickly.
Indianapolis Colts~ Is this Peyton Manning's year?
There comes a point in time when you just have to realize that as talented as Peyton Manning is, he can not win in the big pressure games.
Peyton, is the Alex Rodriguez of football.
It would not shock me to see younger brother Eli get a ring before Peyton does.
One great move the Colt front office made was to say goodbye to kicker Mike Vanderjagt! This guy nailed 50 yard field goals during the season, then also did the A-rod shuffle in post season. He is replaced by the best pressure place-kicker on the planet, Adam Vinatieri.
Indy will win this division again, but reaching the Superbowl is something this best bet sports handicapper, is not counting on.
Houston Texans ! Pay close attention....
The Houston Texans will at worst, finish 8-8 in 2006.
David Carr is the most underated QB in the game.
Carr has had to work behind the weakest offensive line protection known to man ever since he took the helm of this football team.
In 2006, this O-Line will be improved. Texans drafted two tackles, Charles Spencer, and Eric Winston. Kubiak brings in veteran center Mike Flanagan, from Green Bay to help bolster the line.
Good things will happen for the Texans in 2006, and remember you read it HERE. Don't be surprised if the young defense plays well enough for this football team to finish with a winning record and a playoff road game!
Jacksonville Jaguars~ If you are still going to make Fred Taylor your focus point of this offense , then wake me up when the next game comes on.
Byron Leftwich is the solid leader I thought he would be but I must confess..... He moves to slow. This is not good whe you go up against the leagues top defensive units.
The defense is solid, and they hit hard. Some key draft day decisions will help keep this unit playing on top level for yeas to come.
In order for Jacksonville to reach the next level, they will have to open up this offense. Don't see it happening this year.
Tennessee Titans~ Tennessee used the #3 pick in this yeas draft, to get another college QB who thinks with his feet first. When are we going to learn? This puts the direction of this football franchise on the wrong road.
Keeping McNair, and using the third overall pick in the draft to take someone like Reggie Bush, would have been the wise.
Denver Broncos~ Once all the veterans were in camp, seems it didn't take coach Mike Shanahan long to make the announcement that Tatum Brown will enter the 2006 season as the Denver Broncos #1 tailback. Shanahan and the Broncos let Mike Armstrong move on to Baltimore because they like what they see in Tatum Brown. Nobody in the NFL has the success with zone blocking schemes, like the Denver Broncos.
No matter who carries the ball they pick up chunks of yardage on the ground. Even Ron Dayne looks good in Denvers backfield.
So if Mike Shanahan was so eager to proclaim Brown as his starting runningback, then that tells me that the man is excited about what his ground attack can accomplish in 2006.
After watching Jake "mistake" Plummer perform in the post season last year, I am convinced that his days of being Denvers starting quarterback are numbered. Broncos drafted Jay Cutler out of Vanderbilt.
Make note of this......
Jay Cutler is the real deal.
Besides a good arm, Jay has it going on between his ears. Like Ben Roethlisberger, Cutler is capable of stepping into this system in his first year, and never look back. I believe he will get that chance.
The defense played well in 2005, and look for them to play well again, even with the departure of Trevor Pryce.
The Broncos once again will be a tough out when we get to the post season. Don't expect a rookie, even one as good as Cutler, to lead the Broncos to the Superbowl in his first year. Next year, perhaps.
San Diego Chargers~ Phillip Rivers finally will take over at quarterback as Drew Brees moves on to New Orleans. Rivers has enough going on upstairs to react to the speed that he will see on this level. Rivers mechanics are suspect, his progress will not be a overnight success.
Look for Rivers and the Chargers, to go thru some growing pains early on this year.
The Chargers will get hot in the second half of the season and make a strong run for the playoffs. I expect them to fall short.
Kansas City Chiefs~ Herman Edwards is now the new coach of the Chiefs. Edwards they will find, is a great motivator who will get the Chiefs to play well as a unit. As a gameday coach.....Ouch!
Chiefs made little changes, which means they still have one of the leagues worst defenses.
Oakland Raiders~ Is Al Davis still calling the shots in Oakland?
Was it Al decision to bring Randy Moss aboard?
Since Randy only seems to run "free lance patterns", and can not really fit into this system, I was wondering....
Was it Al's choice to grab Aaron Brooks to play quarterback?
If the answer is yes to both questions, then it is time to break out the ducktape, and cast Al Davis deep into the black hole.
Getting Art Shell to coach this team was the only smart off-season move that the "Raiders of the lost ark" have made.
Expect these teams to be AFC Playoff bound.
New England Patriots