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Old 09-02-2009, 02:54 AM   #1
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Cool Anthony's NFL Preview: 2009 Edition

This may be a year of "change" in politics - but far less so in football, at least on the pro side anyway.
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Old 09-02-2009, 02:55 AM   #2
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Cool A Closer Look: AFC East

New England Patriots: 12-4
The SB Runner-Up Jinx proved too much for even them last year, when they became 7th such team in 8 years to watch playoffs on television; Tom Brady, whose season-ending opening-day injury set '08 tempo for them, returns, with backing-and-filling taking place elsewhere on offense over spring; apparently dissatisfied with pass rush, they expended '10 draft pick to bring DE Burgess from Oak. The key issue could be the schedule: Theirs is much, much tougher than that of SB champ Steelers, so repeat of their win at Pit in '04 AFC title game will likely be necessary for Bill Belichick to make his 5th Super Bowl appearance on the decade (won 3 of the 4 so far).

New York Jets: 8-8
It didn't take long for Mark Sanchez to land the starting QB job, running game is one-dimensional but gobbles up the real-estate nonetheless, and receiving corps is speed-starved with Laveranues Coles' departure (Cin, FA). New HC Rex Ryan (one of Buddy's sons) promises more aggressive style on defense although it will remain a base 3-4; secondary must step up, but may do so with arrival (via trade) of ex-Pha CB Lito Sheppard. Return of Tom Brady to NE fold makes division title all but pipe dream, and schedule is not favorable for wild-card run; completion of division exacta would appear to be most realistic objective.

Buffalo Bills: 7-9
Doubts already being expressed about how long T.O. will remain happy having pedestrian QB Trent Edwards throwing to him, RB Marshawn Lynch will miss first 3 games due to personal-conduct suspension, and traded LT Jason Peters to Pha after he ranked dead last in entire league in sacks allowed a year ago, when defense wasn't very good, though injuries were an issue and top draft draftee Aaron Maybin (Penn St.) is being counted on to bolster 24-sack '08 pass rush. Seem stuck on 7 wins, the number they have recorded in each of last 3 seasons, all under HC Dick Jauron, and can't see things turning out much different this go-round with difficult non-division slate; on the fringe.

Miami Dolphins: 6-10
One year after zooming from 1-15 to 11-5, their SOS zooms from .461 to .594; better hope QB Pennington can keep on keepin' on since it's pretty muddled, and very inexperienced, at position after that; RB Ronnie Brown returned from ACL surgery with 10 TDs and a Pro Bowl invite, and three different WRs come off 50+ catch season. 3-4 defense lacks size up front, but does compensate with bigger-than-average LBs. Comparisons with '08 Browns, who plummeted from 10-6 to 4-12 while taking .117 jump in SOS, are inevitable - and their climb is even steeper (.133); looking elsewhere.

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Old 09-02-2009, 02:57 AM   #3
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Cool A Closer Look: AFC North

Pittsburgh Steelers: 14-2
Needed choke by Ten to stay at home throughout AFC playoffs last January, but marshmallow-soft schedule suggests similar good fortune won't be required this time around. Lack of power running game (no RB on depth chart >5'11") only weakness of note - and wasn't addressed in off-season - and it didn't stop them from reaching, and winning, SB 43. Face potential loss of many starters in '10 FA - but why pull tomorrow's cloud over today's sunshine? The one to beat for repeat, and we won't even try.

Cleveland Browns: 9-7
Folded under weight of .117 rise in SOS a year ago, but get it all back with interest in form of .123 drop this season; QB battle between Derek Anderson and Brady Quinn getting all the preseason ink, and either way it's a huge upgrade over last year when both went down with injuries; cut ties with tempestuous TE Kellen Winslow Jr. and lost WR Donte' Stallworth to season-long suspension so Braylon Edwards will need to come up big, while RB Jamal Lewis' first carry this season will be the 2,400th of his career. Defense has more ?s than The Riddler's jumpsuit - but patsy schedule can work wonders for a team, on both sides of the ball. HC Eric Mangini has already led one team from 4-12 one year to playoffs the next, and wouldn't rule out encore in this spot; but it will have to be via wild-card route as Pit is simply too tough.

Cincinnati Bengals: 8-8
Been acting pretty upbeat for a team whose record has worsened last 3 straight years - maybe clean bill of health QB Carson Palmer's elbow has received has something to do with it; even WR Johnson, oops, Ochocinco, has been putting best face forward, and RB Benson has found new surroundings much to his liking. Defense's 12th-place ranking a year ago, however, may be mirage, as it played opposite league-trailing offense - so were teams playing not-to-lose against it? Change-disliking FO decided to stick with HC Marvin Lewis, but team must end decade on high note if he is to enter the new one with that job intact; decidedly mixed signals.

Baltimore Ravens: 7-9
Rookie QB Joe Flacco got mucho props for leading team from 5-11 the year before to Final Four appearance even though team was 28th in passing offense; running game lacked a 1,000-yard rusher but ranked 4th overall; WR Mason retired, then un-retired, and TE Heap faces starting-job battle with ex-Eagle L.J. Smith. Defense has carried team for long time now, but age is beginning to show, and LB Bart Scott (and DC Rex Ryan) left for NYJ. May have played over their heads in '08, and healthier QBing from both Ohio entrants would leave them with division's weakest offense by far; siding with others.

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Old 09-02-2009, 02:58 AM   #4
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Cool A Closer Look: AFC South

Indianapolis Colts: 10-6
Tony Dungy left - to hold Michael Vick's hand, as things developed - and chosen successor Jim Caldwell takes over; nobody ever gets within hail of Peyton Manning so depth concerns are moot, but running game lacks size and power and receiving in flux with Marvin Harrison's departure - yet whole has always exceeded sum of parts in this offense, thanks largely to OL that keeps P-Man's uniform spotless and routinely opens huge holes for RBs. Defense is downright diminutive but usually effective, particularly vs. pass, and S Bob Sanders has history of injury-free - and productive - odd-numbered years. Saw their 5-year lease atop division expire last year when everything clicked magically for Titans, but with bounce on the likely agenda in Ten and Hou seemingly hooked on mediocrity, they may have one more division crown left in them despite winds of change that have buffeted them in recent months.

Houston Texans: 9-7
Would have notched first winning season in franchise history after 0-4 start if not for inexplicable Week 16 loss to Oak; Matt Schaub is latest "system quarterback" success story, and it sure doesn't hurt that his weapons include arguably the NFL's best all-around WR in Andre Johnson; '08 3rd-round pick Steve Slaton was pleasant surprise at RB and OL's hungry years are long gone. On defense, DE Mario Williams showed continued progress with dozen-sack, Pro-Bowl-making year, but underachievement and injuries have jointly plagued most of rest of unit. Two things stand out: This team needs a more alert start (17-33 lifetime in Sep.-Oct., their best showing ever therein being 2004's 4-3) and more wins within division (3-9 last 2 years); but if they get either or both - and conquering their artificial-turf phobia (they've lost 17 straight on rugs by a combined 515-233!) wouldn't hurt either - not only initial over-.500 finish, but also first-ever playoff trip, looms well within reach.

Tennessee Titans: 7-9
Like the young Joe Flacco at Bal, the not-so-young Kerry Collins got all the credit for leading team to surprise '08 effort in spite of not doing whole lot in terms of raw production (27th in passing) after Vince Young's early crack-up; strong ground game (ranked 7th) had lot to do with it, but its mainstays (Chris Johnson and LenDale White) don't seem to be getting along now, and FO may have reached a bit with tabbing of Rutgers WR Kenny Britt in 1st round. Defense proved 2007 leap to #5 in yardage rankings (from last in '06) was no fluke, reporting home 7th last year, but now must confront absence of disruptive DT Albert Haynesworth. Too many things seemed to go right for them last season, until 23-0 loss in "meaningless" Week 17 game at Ind formed keyboard for early exit from playoffs despite #1 seed (no regular-season-finale shutout loser has ever reached conference title game) - and ominously, the last time they gagged on it from that position (2000, when they also went 13-3), they segued it with losing season the following year; another example of the history book on the shelf always repeating itself?

Jacksonville Jaguars: 3-13
HC Jack Del Rio was releived of his roster decision-making input in wake of last year's 5-11 train wreck - but at least he didn't lose his job altogether as both GM and player-personnel director did; QB David Garrard did not play up to $60M contract extension cord they wrapped around him in spring of '08 and release of RB Fred Taylor leaves feature-back role to arch-scatback Maurice Jones-Drew - a serious concern with 9 games in '09 vs. 3-4 defenses, while Muttley from Dick Dastardly (in)fame did more things right than this FO has done at WR for long time now, and doubt superannuated StL castoff Torry Holt is the answer; defense, save CB Rashean Mathis, was major disappointment a year ago. Change you can believe in? Seems more like change for its own sake is going on here - a cycle that figures to run its course this winter with Del Rio joining his two ex-superiors on scrap heap; can't recommend.

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Old 09-02-2009, 03:00 AM   #5
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Cool A Closer Look: AFC West

San Diego Chargers: 11-5
'08 edition was first NFL team ever to make playoffs after being 4-8 through 12 games, and even won one post-season tilt once there - and did it despite loss of top defender (Shawne Merriman) on opening day thanks to offense that featured a 4,000-yard passer, a 1,000-yard rusher and a 1,000-yard receiver; that 4,000-yd. passer, Philip Rivers, also led entire league with 105.5 passer rating, but the thousand-yard rusher, LaDainian Tomlinson, is now racked on lee shore of 30, prompting FO to shell out big bucks to keep 5'6" Darren Sproles, while the quadruple-digit receiver, Vincent Jackson, was a surprise of sorts. Defense is prototype oversized 3-4 which is fast attaining de rigeur status throughout NFL, and looking for more production from underachieving secondary whose play keynoted #31 '08 pass-defense ranking. Could probably play entire season with 10 men on field both ways and still win this perfectly dreadful division - but under no circumstances do they enter season rated any higher than 3rd best in conference headed by defending champ Steelers and loaded Pats.

Kansas City Chiefs: 7-9
Trade for QB Matt Cassel gives incoming HC Todd Haley some genuine hope on offense that offers little otherwise besides bruising RB Larry Johnson and promising young WR Dwayne Bowe, and TE Tony Gonzalez was allowed to stray to Atl in FA; defense was flat-out embarrassment year ago, with record-low 10 sacks registered all season. Highly-regarded GM Scott Pioli is another fresh face, and he'll try to prove he was indeed paying attention to Bill Belichick at NE. Won't have to be much to round out exacta in this division, but no 2-14 team has ever made playoffs the following season in a non-strike year (although Mia did do it from 1-15 last season) - and can't see either this team or StL pulling such a thing off.

Oakland Raiders: 6-10
Their '03-'08 teams are the only ones in 16-game era to neglect to win >5 games in any season over 6-year span; acquisition of 39-yo Jeff Garcia could do more harm than good for JaMarcus Russell's fragile confidence, but they're utterly loaded with both size and ability at RB, and puzzling selection of WR Darrius Heyward-Bey with #1 pick (7th overall) slakes Al Davis' speed jones. Defense, which was fever swamp in '08, especially vs. run, has been further depleted by trade of DE Burgess to NE, although not without recognizable names like DT Tommy Kelly, LB Thomas Howard and CB Nnamdi Asomugha. Low-budget interim HC Tom Cable wound up being retained on permanent basis when no one else wanted the job (wonder why?); might break the sub-6-win-season drought, but that's about it.

Denver Broncos: 4-12
New HC Josh McDaniels has brought them to the point of no return, and for them there'll be no turning back, as Gene McDaniels (presumably no relation) crooned back in '62: Jay Cutler was sent packing, leaving talented WR crew - perhaps the only good feature on this entire team - with no one to throw to it; RBs are a slapdash collection of two has-beens (Correll Buckhalter and LaMont Jordan), a never-was (J.J. Arrington) and a very real potential bust (RB Knowshon Moreno, who lacks both size and speed, taken at #12 overall) - and then we come to the defense, which essentially consists of two classy veterans in the secondary (Champ Bailey and FA arrival Brian Dawkins, like Buckhalter a heretofore Eagle), a rookie situation pass-rusher of some promise (Robert Ayers, another 1st-rounder) and eight empty jerseys. Reminiscent of Min's Les Steckel from a quarter-century ago, McDaniels looks for all the world like he's young, brash and clueless, and figures to suffer the same fate - canned after one year, memorable for all the wrong reasons.

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Old 09-02-2009, 03:02 AM   #6
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Cool A Closer Look: NFC East

Dallas Cowboys: 11-5
Addition by subtraction? Guess that's what they must be thinking, unloading such weapons of mass distraction as T.O., Tank Johnson and Pacman Jones, although they did add a serviceable backup to Tony Romo (Jon Kitna), and rest of offense hardly warranted much tinkering; and defense, to be coordinated directly by HC Wade Phillips this year, is pretty formidable in its own right, although depth in secondary could become sore point if injuries hit. Their main obstacles appear to be of the mental variety, with no post-season victory in dozen years which of course encompasses Romo's personal goose-egg therein; but before that comes the regular season, and with presumably a more focused locker room, this team would be well within themselves to christen their new retractable-roof home with a 1st-place division finish.

New York Giants: 11-5
Eli Manning just became NFL's highest-paid QB, but he will be throwing to one of its least-experienced receiving units, now that both Plaxico Burress and Amani Toomer have passed from scene; they also lost one-third of "Earth, Wind & Fire" RB contingent as Derrick Ward fled to TB via FA. D-line has coped successfully with Michael Strahan's retirement, LB Antonio Pierce evaded both indictment and league discipline in Burress flap, and Corey Webster emerged as shut-down CB late last year. But offense may be weaker this season given the significant defections, and they haven't won back-to-back division titles since 1989-90; 'Boys may have slight edge on them, but solid playoff prospects.

Washington Redskins: 9-7
Jason Campbell could have kvetched about FO's off-season interest in both Jay Cutler and Mark Sanchez but he didn't, and signing of prized FA DT Albert Haynesworth catalyzed no complaints whatsoever; neither RBs nor WRs are the most physical around, but they produce as does TE Cooley; defensively, Haynesworth is not only new face up front, as rookie DE Brian Orakpo could jump-start pass rush that averaged 25 sacks per season last 3 years; smallish LBs are a worry but secondary is deep and talented enough to absorb loss of CB Shawn Springs. No team has finished last in this division two years in a row since the 2002 realignment reduced it to 4 teams (removing Ari), but QB makeovers by both Min and Chi dampen hopes of NFCE spearing both NFC wild cards for 3rd time in 4 years; a little bit of everything but not enough of it.

Philadelphia Eagles: 7-9
Exactly what need does Michael Vick fill on this team? Death of long-time DC Jim Johnson was swiftly followed by season-aborting training-camp ACL injury to starting MLB Stewart Bradley, putting ominous damper on their summer - and this after spring in which they parted ways with both veteran OTs, Jon Runyan and Tra Thomas, along with heart and soul of defense, S Brian Dawkins (FA, Den): true, they did sign FA FB Leonard Weaver, but position has been total non-issue in HC Andy Reid's offense, accounting for microscopic 10 carries in last 4 years combined - and why did they mortgage one of their two 1st-round draft picks on an OT who allowed staggering 11.5 sacks a year ago? Used #1 pick they kept on Jeremy Maclin, who joins soph DeSean Jackson to cap stunning turnaround at WR, but RB Westbrook is now 30 and has both a knee and an ankle that are falling apart. Loss of Bradley looms cruel blow to defense, as likely replacement Omar Gaither lacks Bradley's physical presence and DL is already one of NFL's smallest, while secondary bid 'ciao' to CB Lito Sheppard in addition to Dawkins. That's a lot of leadership they've become bereft of in a single off-season - and remember that they're 9-15 within division in reg. season play since 2005, plus tougher schedule narrows error margin for team that went 1-6-1 in games decided by 7 pts. or less in 2008, including NFC title-game loss to Cards; nod to others.

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Old 09-02-2009, 03:03 AM   #7
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Cool A Closer Look: NFC North

Minnesota Vikings: 13-3
Won 10 games with pair of future security guards at QB last year - so how many are they liable to win with future HOFer at that position, along with much easier schedule? RB Adrian Peterson could menace 2K-yard figure with defenses no longer having luxury of keying on him and top draftee Percy Harvin lines up opposite proven deep threat Bernard Berrian at WR; only knock on offense may be loss of C Matt Birk to Bal in FA. Pass defense improved dramatically in '08 when outspoken DE Jared Allen climbed aboard, while run-stoppers are 3-time defending league champs. More talented supporting cast than rival Bears, who also cleaned up their QB mess, gives them leg up on home field throughout NFC playoffs thanks to huge schedule edge division enjoys over East and (especially) South; road to senior circuit's SB 44 berth likely goes through Triple H.

Chicago Bears: 12-4
Jay Cutler plugs the hole in their soul at QB, and like their smash-mouth running game too; and while they have undeniable deficiencies at WR, they're still better off there than those early-'00s Pha teams that kept reaching Final Four, and defense simply has to be better than what it showed last year, particularly vs. pass (30th). Their .414 SOS - based on last year's records - is entire league's easiest, down .061 from then; but Vikes descend SOS scale by .084 and also did what they needed to do at QB, plus probably boast better personnel elsewhere; Lovie Smith's charges may have to content selves with wild-card RSVP come January.

Green Bay Packers: 8-8
Is Aaron Rodgers a 21st-Century Steve DeBerg in the making? Logged gaudy 93.8 passer rating, but seemed to play just well enough to get beat, with Pack taking 0-for-7 collar in games decided by 4 pts. or less in his first season as starter; like rest of division, their running game is slanted toward inside power over outside speed, and they hold NFC North's hottest hand at receiving spots. Will switch to 3-4 defense this year, but shouldn't be outmuscled as front 7 has excellent size; yet will being different on defense crowd out being better - something that needs to occur given '08 rankings in yards (20th) and points (22nd) allowed? And can they do better job of sealing the deal in those tight games? Questions outnumber answers.

Detroit Lions: 2-14
Resisted temptation to reach for big-name HC coming off first 0-16 season in NFL history, opting instead for ex-Ten DC Jim Schwartz; did think big with #1 draft pick though, snagging QB Matthew Stafford, who may sit initially behind Daunte Culpepper; RB Kevin Smith narrowly missed 1,000-yard mark (and also scored 8 TDs) in team's lone '08 bright spot, and has good mix of speed and power. Defense, which gave up 2nd most points of all time (517), did bulk up along line by signing DT Grady Jackson, and also added ex-NFC West LB Julian Peterson. TB followed winless '76 campaign (0-14 as 1st-year expansion team) with 2-win season in '77, and repeat of that scenario sounds about right; still remain poised to become first NFL team since '95-'96 Jets to endure back-to-back overall caboose finishes.

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Old 09-02-2009, 03:05 AM   #8
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Cool A Closer Look: NFC South

New Orleans Saints: 9-7
Drew Brees is the Rashad Evans of NFL QBs - he sure gets a lot out of what he has, now doesn't he? Then again, maybe you would too if you had the array of receiving talent he has at ready; RB corps will sport smaller look this year with Deuce McAllister gone, but OL has allowed average of just 17 sacks per season last 3 years (13 in '08) and all starters return. Diogenes-like search for answers on defense continues, most recently bringing in two new presumptive secondary starters in CB Jabari Greer and well-traveled S Darren Sharper. Every last-place team in this division's history has gone on to make playoffs the following season, all but one (Atl last year) as division champs; and getting to play Det and StL while rivals must face much tougher pairs could come in handy in contentious grouping; the pick.

Carolina Panthers: 7-9
Seemed to have lost their will after Week 16 OT loss to NYG deprived them of top NFC playoff seed, barely squeaking by already-eliminated NO to save 2 seed, then getting inexplicably blown out at home by Ari after first-round bye; QB Jake Delhomme turned it over 6 times that day, but was subsequently re-signed to long-term deal and RB duo of DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart bring to mind Byner-Mack from mid-'80s Browns; receivers are getting neither younger nor healthier though. Managed to hold onto DE Julius Peppers, LB Jon Beason comes off Pro Bowl season, and '08 2nd-rounder Richard Marshall succeeds Ken Lucas at other CB spot besides respected Chris Gamble. But schedule contains nary a single game vs. a team that finished worse than 7-9 a season ago - ouch! - and no defending NFC South winner has ever gone better than 9-7 the year after, or made playoffs; plus they are one of two teams in this division (Atl being the other) that has NEVER had back-to-back winning seasons in franchise history! Doubters have loads of ammo.

Atlanta Falcons: 7-9
Matt Ryan made the team - and the city - forget about Michael Vick in a big way, perpetuating rags-to-riches tradition of this division; RB Turner did everything that could possibly be asked of him in first year out of LT's shadow in SD, and veteran TE Tony Gonzalez has been added to receiving mix which already included dangerous WR Roddy White. Were not idle on defensive side either, drafting DT Peria Jerry in Round 1 and salvaging LB Mike Peterson from sinking Jac ship in FA, but may have issues in secondary with Domonique Foxworth taking the money and running to Bal; worse yet, three other vets on defense - DT Grady Jackson, LB Keith Brooking and S Lawyer Milloy - also flew coop. Sked looms another obstacle, up meteoric .129 from '08; no lock to break vexing no-two-winning-seasons-in-a-row jinx, let alone reprise playoff run.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 4-12
Crashed and burned after 9-3 start, although 9-7 final record was best ever by defending NFCS champ; fade cost both the HC, Jon Gruden, and the starting QB, Jeff Garcia, their jobs, with Raheem Morris taking over at the former spot and heaven-knows-who the latter; Derrick Ward was signed at RB in FA in case Cadillac Williams and/or Earnest Graham can't rebound from recent injuries, while WR Joey Galloway was also off-season casualty. New DC Jim Bates is shaking things up on that side of ball, making storied Cover-2 a thing of the past - but does he have the talent to make any scheme work, especially with Cantonite-in-waiting Derrick Brooks no longer on hand? Dreaded "youth movement" has landed here, and short-term results of recent examples of same (like KC in '08) haven't been encouraging; pass.

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Old 09-02-2009, 03:08 AM   #9
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Cool A Closer Look: NFC West

San Francisco 49ers: 8-8
Say what you will about QB Shaun Hill, but he's gone 7-3 as a starter (the 7 wins albeit coming over opponents with a combined mark of 44-68) when this team was 5-17 otherwise in 2007-08; RB Frank Gore lacks inside power and has struggled with fumble woes but has rushed for 3,833 yards last 3 years; top draftee WR Michael Crabtree is holding out, however, and even threatening to re-enter draft in '10. Committed to full-time 3-4 look on defense when HC Mike Nolan was fired after 7 games last year and Mike Singletary, who had been DC, appointed Greg Manusky to succeed him, and good size along front 7 should make transition easier. If Ari cannot surmount SB Runner-Up Jinx, this will be entire NFL's weakest division this season, and Singletary, kept on after 5-4 interim stint, appears to have enough to work with to end 6-year sub-.500 skein, which may be all that is needed to get the job done.

Seattle Seahawks: 8-8
Lost all chance when QB Matt Hasselbeck threw his back out, dooming HC Mike Holmgren to less-than-auspicious end to his illustrious career, with ex-Falcon skipper Jim Mora Jr. stepping in as planned. If Hasselbeck can rebound this year, FA acquiree WR Houshmandzadeh could light it up, and Hasselbeck's cause will also be aided if Deion Branch and Nate Burleson can evade repeat of injuries that cost them 8 and 15 games in '08 respectively. DE Patrick Kerney was also victim of injury pandemic - 164 man-games missed by 26 different players - that contributed to bottom-ranked pass defense. But they face historically daunting task: Only one team in last 46 years (the '06 Bucs) has made playoffs both the year before and the year after a season in which it won fewer than 5 games ('Hawks were 4-12 in 2008), and complete recovery by Hasselbeck at his age (34) is anything but slam dunk; a matter of taste.

Arizona Cardinals: 7-9
The latest team that must stare down the SB Runner-Up Jinx, and, if one goes by regular-season records, the weakest; Kurt Warner had better reprise '08 magic, for Matt Leinart may not even beat out lowly Brian St. Pierre for backup job; face similar conundrum at RB where top draft pick Beanie Wells ominously sprained right ankle on Day 1 of training camp and for time being sits behind Tim Hightower; WRs Fitzgerald and Boldin need no introduction and #3 receiver Steve Breaston could start for many if not most other teams. Defense forfeits services of two of its starting front 7 from year ago - Antonio Smith and Travis LaBoy - and also its coordinator, Clancy Pendergast, who took same job at KC, where OC Todd Haley found greener pastures as HC. 7 of last 8 SB losers (and 8 of last 10) failed to make playoffs the season after, and all had better reg. season records that year than this team managed in 2008; add leadership vacuum created by both coordinators bailing, and taking stand against them becomes easy call.

St. Louis Rams: 5-11
Have both new HC, Steve Spagnuolo, and new GM, Billy Devaney, and they've wasted no time de-aging the roster (went from 20 30-somethings in '08 season finale to 6 as of June); QB Marc Bulger was among few oldies who survived purge, and former Raven Kyle Boller was signed to provide depth that had heretofore been woefully lacking, causing offense to virtually flatine whenever Bulger was nursing an injury, which has been quite often of late; Spagnuolo plans building offense around RB Steven Jackson, but he, too, has had his share of injuries, and speedy wideout Donnie Avery may miss some early games due to broken bone in foot. Used #2 overall pick on OT Jason Smith, capping back-to-back years of having that selection and investing it on lineman as DE Chris Long was obtained in '08; LB Will Witherspoon moves outside to accomodate rookie James Laurinaitis (2nd round, Ohio St.) who sets up shop in middle, while Spagnuolo brought S James Butler with him from NYG, where he had been DC. Would appear to be laying foundation for success down the line, though division is soft enough for them to at least have a say in its outcome; may do later.

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Old 09-02-2009, 03:11 AM   #10
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Cool Playoffs

(Home teams in CAPS)

AFC Wild Card: SAN DIEGO over Houston
...................... INDIANAPOLIS over Cleveland
NFC Wild Card: N.Y. Giants over NEW ORLEANS
...................... Chicago over SAN FRANCISCO

AFC Semifinals: PITTSBURGH over Indianapolis
....................... NEW ENGLAND over San Diego
NFC Semifinals: MINNESOTA over N.Y. Giants
....................... Chicago over DALLAS

AFC Championship: PITTSBURGH over New England
NFC Championship: MINNESOTA over Chicago

Super Bowl XLIV: Pittsburgh over Minnesota

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Old 09-04-2009, 01:24 PM   #11
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No way Green Bay goes 8-8, they will be improved. I say 11-5. The Favre experiment will be a distraction and failure in Minnesota as Favre throws away games with INTs.

The key to GB is Ryan Grant and the running game. If he can stay healthy and have a season like 2007, combined with Rogers and the potent passing game, the Packers should win the division. Roger is going to bust out and have a Pro Bowl season.
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