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Old 09-04-2011, 12:40 AM   #1
Anthony
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Cool Anthony's 2011 NFL Preview

Predicted records in parentheses


AFC EAST

1. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (12-4): Have won the regular-season battle with hated Jets the last two years, only to lose the postseason war on both occasions when the Jets outlasted them therein, including via a head-to-head playoff win last year; but key off-season additions such as Chad Ochocinco and Albert Haynesworth should be enough to assure that the latter will not happen a third time.

2. NEW YORK JETS (10-6): They and Pats are fast supplanting Yankees and Red Sox as deadliest New York-Boston sports rivalry. Plaxico Burress adds key red-zone dimension - but otherwise made no significant off-season changes, so will still likely need three postseason road wins in order to get a shot at a fourth such game at a neutral site. Wouldn't bet against them getting at least one though.

3. MIAMI DOLPHINS (6-10): The only reason either Tony Sparano or Chad Henne are still around is because owner Steve Ross and GM Jeff Ireland came up empty in a hands-on, cross-country search to replace both. Have a feeling that Ross and Ireland will be conducting another search in a few months.

4. BUFFALO BILLS (2-14): How they could stand pat with Ryan "If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Buffalo" Fitzpatrick at QB is a mystery. It does put them in prime position to land Andrew Luck next spring - but will Chan Gailey still be there to coach him? And speaking of Gailey, how come someone like him got a second chance at a head-coaching position when Sherm Lewis, Ted Cottrell etc. never even got a first?


AFC NORTH

1. CINCINNATI BENGALS (10-6): Before you laugh, they're taking not only the biggest year-to-year drop in strength of schedule in the entire NFL this season - their 2010 opponents were a combined 149-107 last year, their 2011 foes 121-135 in '10 - but one of the steepest such drops in the past 30 years! And why can't Andy Dalton reprise Drew Brees as a successful early second-round pick, especially with first-rounder A.J. Green providing the needed go-to guy?

2. BALTIMORE RAVENS (10-6): Bridesmaid revisited? They've finished second three years in a row; and no matter how hard they try, they can't seem to be able to assemble the necessary supporting cast for Joe Flacco.

3. PITTSBURGH STEELERS (9-7): Yeah, I know Ben Roethlisberger has been lighting it up in the preseason; but they've got the dreaded Super Bowl Runner-Up Jinx going against them - and I believe in the Super Bowl Runner-Up Jinx.

4. CLEVELAND BROWNS (4-12): Not since the Eagles teams of the early 2000s has a team been this talent-poor at the receiving spots - and they're nowhere near as good as those teams along the rest of the roster. Not ready to mount the Colt McCoy bandwagon just yet.


AFC SOUTH

1. INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (11-5): Can make the playoffs an NFL-record 10th consecutive time if they do it again this year, and if Peyton Manning's pain in the neck doesn't cause him to miss more than one or two games, they should do it, given the motleyed collection of mediocrity that resides elsewhere in this grouping.

2. HOUSTON TEXANS (8-8): Settled for Johnathan Joseph to bolster sprinkling-can secondary after Eagles grabbed the top prize in Nnamdi Asomugha, and Matt Schaub comes equipped with a built-in banana peel. And Mario Williams as an outside linebacker?

3. TENNESSEE TITANS (7-9): Unable to decide who was worse - Jeff Fisher or Vince Young - Bud Adams, their foul-mouthed, 88-year-old owner, got rid of them both. Jake Locker is a keeper and they kept Chris Johnson happy, but if defense was a fighter it would have a glass jaw.

4. JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (6-10): Every year they're touted as a candidate for the top pick in the following year's draft, and every year they manage to overachieve. But hey, when the undisputed face of your team goes all of 5-foot-7, you're behind the 8-ball right there. Looks like the last roundup for Jack Del Rio.


AFC WEST

1. SAN DIEGO CHARGERS (11-5): How do you rank #1 in the league in both total offense and total defense and miss the playoffs? Yet somehow they did last year. May not do any of the above this time around; but when playoff time does come, what then? Hardly an idle question when your head coach happens to be Norv Turner.

2. KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (7-9): The reverse of the Bengals - their schedule difficulty zooms from 106 total wins from their 2010 opponents last year to 133 this year. And Matt Cassel has been the reverse of Big Ben in the preseason.

3. DENVER BRONCOS (6-10): The sooner Tim Tebow cracks the starting lineup, the more games they'll win; but even if that happens early, serious questions surrounding both the running game and the defense will keep this team out of realistic playoff contention.

4. OAKLAND RAIDERS (6-10): Went 6-0 within the division last year but couldn't even finish second therein, let alone first (between this and what Chargers did, maybe that explains how KC won it); and the highly-publicized violence in the stands when they visited the 49ers in a preseason game last month makes eminent good sense when you consider that neither team has managed so much as a single winning season since 2002. And neither team will have one this year either.


NFC EAST

1. DALLAS COWBOYS (12-4): Presumably, they will get 16 healthy games out of Tony Romo, and Rob Ryan will bring new physicality and aggressiveness to the defense. A redux of iconic "Ice Bowl" of yore in this year's NFC title game could very well be in the offing.

2. NEW YORK GIANTS (11-5): Small wonder that they raised perhaps the loudest voice against the proposed 18-game schedule, as they have a sorry recent history of popping and stopping under the current 16-game slate. But both Eli Manning and Tom Coughlin are actually underrated, and better luck - 42 turnovers in 2010 - could enable them to hang on better this year.

3. PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (9-7): You've heard of too big to fail. Well this team is too small to succeed - at least if "success" is defined as nothing less than a Lombardi Trophy - and all their frenetic post-lockout personnel moves didn't change that. The year's biggest disappointment.

4. WASHINGTON REDSKINS (2-14): Remember the 1968 "O.J. Bowl" between the Steelers and Eagles? Well their Oct. 30 game against the Bills at Toronto has all the makings of being the "Andrew Luck Bowl." And Mike Shanahan's AFC finesse philosophy is proving to be a poor fit for the NFC in general, and the bruising NFC East in particular.


NFC NORTH

1. GREEN BAY PACKERS (14-2): Won the Super Bowl last year despite having to play without their top running back, Ryan Grant, and their starting tight end, Jermichael Finley, for essentially the entire season. Now imagine what they'll do this year, with Grant and Finley.

2. DETROIT LIONS (8-8): Their 0-16 run of three years ago does seem a distant memory now - but offensive backfield, as in Jahvid Best, must stay healthy, and defensive backfield must prove it can cover anybody. A team on the rise, to be sure - but you know what Alan Greenspan said about irrational exuberance.

3. MINNESOTA VIKINGS (7-9): Is Donovan McNabb merely minding the store until top draftee Christian Ponder is ready to take over? At least their roof won't fall in again this year - not literally anyway.

4. CHICAGO BEARS (5-11): Didn't the Rams train-wreck after Jim Everett, aka "Chris Evert," did something substantially similar in the conference title game back in 1989 to what Jay Cutler pulled in last January's renewal? And why is a team that hosted said game one year being held at 40-1 Super Bowl odds the following year? Someone else out there must expect a train wreck too.


NFC SOUTH

1. NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (12-4): RB Mark Ingram might be the steal of the draft - and their defense, though not without its share of problems, is no worse than that of the only team they really need to worry about in this division. But even if they do prevail in divisional toss-up, they may go no further than the Elite Eight with both loaded Packers and resurgent Cowboys to deal with elsewhere in the NFC.

2. ATLANTA FALCONS (11-5): Offered very little when it counted at the end of last season, going 1-2 in their last three games, all at home, where they had been 7-0 up to that point, culminating in 48-21 loss to eventual champ Green Bay. Just feelin' more love for the Saints this year.

3. CAROLINA PANTHERS (9-7): Every team that has finished last in the NFC South one year has had a winning season the next - and all that has to happen to keep that trend going is for Cam Newton to be for real. And it says here that he is.

4. TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (7-9): In contrast to Matt Ryan, Josh Freeman has been better on the road than at home - and expecting some hangover after riding the same schedule-drop angle the Bengals have in their favor this year to a seven-game improvement in 2010 appears entirely reasonable, especially considering their inability to beat teams with winning records (1-5 last year, with lone win at incentiveless Saints in season finale).


NFC WEST

1. ST. LOUIS RAMS (9-7): Who else in here is clearly moving in the right direction? Frank Sinatra once did a song about a ram that knocked down a billion-kilowatt dam. Well this division is no billion-kilowatt dam.

2. ARIZONA CARDINALS (7-9): Corn on the Kolb proved to be a high-priced commodity indeed: $63 million for a QB with seven career starts. Plus Larry Fitzgerald is going to draw quite a crowd, and defense doesn't frighten anybody.

3. SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (5-11): Maybe Jim Harbaugh can play quarterback. Of course a new face to "play" owner would also help.

4. SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (3-13): If Tarvaris Jackson is the answer, what's the question?


PLAYOFFS

Seeds in parentheses

AFC Wild Card: N.Y. Jets (6) over Indianapolis (3)
...........................Baltimore (5) over Cincinnati (4)

NFC Wild Card: New Orleans (3) over N.Y. Giants (6)
...........................Atlanta (5) over St. Louis (4)

AFC Semifinals: New England (1) over N.Y. Jets
............................Baltimore over San Diego (2)

NFC Semifinals: Green Bay (1) over Atlanta
............................Dallas (2) over New Orleans

AFC Championship: New England over Baltimore

NFC Championship: Green Bay over Dallas

Super Bowl XLVI: Green Bay over New England

Last edited by Anthony; 09-04-2011 at 07:59 AM.
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Old 09-06-2011, 10:48 PM   #2
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Hope you're right about GB, Anthony. But repeat champs is hard to do in the NFL.
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Old 09-08-2011, 06:33 AM   #3
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But how many teams seeking to become repeat champs got to attempt it with their starting running back and tight end not having played for virtually the entire season when they did win the title, and then came back more-or-less 100% healthy?

And New England is actually favored to win the Super Bowl this year as per most sources. That's riduculous; not only should Green Bay be favored, but they shouldn't be so "high" a price as even money, given the situation outlined above; they're actually 6-1, at least according to the source linked below:

http://www.footballlocks.com/nfl_futures_odds.shtml
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