The NFL season will finally be underway within the hour when the Washington Redskins take on the New York Giants. Before kickoff I wanted to finish my thoughts on the NFL season. By January I might look back at this and look like a crackpot, but that’s what makes it fun.
Yes the Jets will be better with Favre, but I don’t see them getting a wild card spot in the AFC playoffs. They will have a high octane offense with Favre and Coles going deep, matched with Thomas Jones running strong. However, they still have a crappy defense and I don’t see Favre being able to keep up with the other offense power houses of the AFC every week. They will make for some great games but don’t get too happy.
Buffalo Brings It
I thought about it more this morning and I’m sticking with Buffalo and even see them grabbing a playoff spot. They have a strong team on both sides of the ball but have had trouble breaking through to the top tier teams. This could be the year. I’m not kidding.
It’s simple football math. A defense coordinator going against the Packers last year can’t put eight men in the box to stop the run because they have to respect Favre going downfield with the ball. The result is a defense on its heals and an offense that can make mediocre running backs look great. The Packers didn’t have a running back when they found Ryan Grant and he suddenly tore up the field while defenders were trying to stop Greg Jennings. Put in an unproven quarterback and suddenly Grant is facing eight man fronts on the first two downs and the offense is facings 3rd-and-8′s all season. The defense is very good but I don’t think they have the mental toughness to carry the entire team.
Now that Adam Jones is active, no one in the NFC can match-up with them. Even the favored Vikings up until a week ago suddenly pale in comparison to the Cowboy roster.
Under the Radar
A few teams are hiding under the radar that could make a very strong run to the playoffs. The Steelers and Jaguars are sitting quietly and listening to how great the Colts and Patriots can play. Both teams have extremely strong rosters from top to bottom and can dominate both sides of the ball. When they get into the playoffs, and they will, anything can happen. I thought the Steelers could take the Patriots last season but they didn’t step it up, I don’t think they’ll make the same mistake this season.
The Mighty Colts?
The biggest surprise every year comes when a team that has always been good suddenly falls flat. No one expected the sudden fall of the Rams after the high octane offense they had for years. Nothing can kill a team faster than issues at the offensive line. The Colts have lost their starting pro bowl center and guard. It hurts the running game and forces Addai to run outside instead of up the middle and leaves Manning vulnerable to blitzes from middle linebackers. The Colts are good, but they could very easily play a few disappointing games and fall from grace. They still make the playoffs but don’t be surprised if it’s a wild card spot.
I’m a die-hard Bears fan. I love the NFC and the hard nose football it represents. But let’s face reality, the past couple years the NFC has put some pretty crappy teams into the playoffs. Lately the wild card spot seems to be more of who sucks the least and wants an extra game? Last year was particularly bad because of injuries that devastated normally competitive teams. If the ball bounces their way and they don’t have injuries, don’t forget about the Panthers and Eagles. Both have strong quarterbacks, solid running game, and the ability dominate other teams. If they stay healthy, the NFC playoffs will be more fun to watch this year. Oh, and Tampa Bay will just miss the playoffs.
Raiders Still Suck
Big impact rookies are a freak of nature and can’t be predicted. The Raiders have another couple years before they develop into a solid team. Stop drinking the Kool-Aid.
Was the preseason a fluke or a sign of a strong defense that can is developing? They looked too good on a consistent basis in the preseason to dismiss it. They may reach where Buffalo was last season, a team building up to having a strong roster.
Vikings, Cowboys, Saints, and Cardinals. Wild cards to Panthers and Eagles.
Patriots, Jaguars, Steelers, Chargers. Wild cards to Colts and Bills.