Showing posts with label patriots. Show all posts
Showing posts with label patriots. Show all posts

Monday, January 16, 2012

There Isn't Just One Way to Win in the NFL

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If you're like me, you've spent your past four months' days off waking up around 2, flipping on Nick Wright and scouring Twitter and Arrowhead Pride for the latest Chiefs news, opinions on how the Chiefs could turn (sh)it around, and updates on Brodie Croyle's marriage (no way that lasts right?). Well, you might find yourself as perturbed as I am listening to the exhaustive rhetoric that the only way to win in the NFL is to field an elite QB. I do not believe this to be true. Here's why...

There are all kinds of ways to win in the NFL. Why? Because, by definition, you only have to be one point better than your opponent on that given day. Bad quarterbacks win, good quarterbacks lose, bad defenses trounce, good defenses get trounced, yada yada yada. There's no proven formula for success here.

That's the lesson of this Divisional Round weekend.

~The San Francisco 49ers advanced to Championship Weekend behind a Guinness defense, an unblockable force in Justin Smith, a freak of a tight end, some questionable playcalling, and an amazing display of heart from their QB (who nobody, including me, thought could get it done when it mattered).

~The New England Patriots advanced to Championship Weekend by jumping to an early 14 point lead on a team who, according to most people, is quarterbacked by a 4'9 Jewish carpenter, over-celebrating every defensive play made against that hairy man in sandals (given, it was the first time many of these defenders had actually made a play), and by whipping their Gronks out and slinging them around. And their QB is alright.

~The Baltimore Ravens advanced to Championship Weekend by slowing down the league's best RB in the second half (Ray Lewis and Arian Foster's postgame, futbol-style trading of jerseys was the coolest thing that happened this weekend), growing lucky handlebar mustaches (how else do you explain playing TJ Yates in an NFL playoff game?), and taking advantage of two huge breaks (muffed punt and Yates' conundrum numero uno) that they're also gonna need come next week.

~The New York Giants advanced to Championship Weekend behind a QB who hangs in the pocket as well as anyone, playmaking wide receivers, a defensive secondary that dominated the game long before their feared pass rush did (their defense is built similarly to the Chiefs), outlasting the referees, and taking advantage of a 15-1 (seriously, how did the Packers go 15-1?) team that peaked much too early in the season. (Side note - Brother Eli's success this postseason could provide even more drive/inspiration for Brother Peyton come next year, yet another reason I hope the Chiefs make a play for him.)

The song remains the same - How do you win in the NFL?

The most simplistic answer, and the one that makes my ears bleed, is to employ a great quarterback. However, this might be the most difficult of all strategies to successfully pull off. Elite quarterbacks are an endangered species. By most accounts, there are precisely five ON THE ENTIRE PLANET.

I know some people would like the process to be as simple as losing a bunch of games, getting a top draft pick, and then BAM...Eli Manning (yeah, I said it). It's not though. Even if it were, ask Dan Marino if that's the only necessary ingredient for a gourmet Bowl of Sup.

So some teams get there with great QB play, some teams get their by not making mistakes, some teams get their with an intimidating defense, some teams advance purely because of circumstances or a favorable matchup.

So what's the key then? How do you build a winner if you can't just turn over a rock and find a great QB? And how does that apply to our Chiefs? Well...


  • Build around what you DO have (great defense, potential defensive mastermind, dynamic WR's, and hopefully a great RB in God Jam Charles).
  • Take what you can get when you can get it (yes, Kyle Orton is eons better than Matt Cassel, a fact I feel so strongly about that I stood on top of a mountain and screamed it at the top of my lungs - IN DENVER, no less). 
  • Keep your known valuable quantities (Dwayne Bowe and Brandon Carr are 2 of the 5 most important Chiefs on the roster right now - don't let money be an issue).
  • Keep improving the team (beef up that defensive line, build some depth along the offensive line, snag a new tight end, add another RB to the mix).
  • Take a chance on one of them danged endangered species (you never know when one might turn up, so keep your eyes open and have a contract ready. That means finding new homes for the domesticated pets - and bring your playbook with you, Tyler/Matt.)

We're not as far off as you fear, folks. The Kansas City Chiefs have a good team. We've seen it in bits and pieces. They can win, and I think they can win next year. There are no dominant teams in the NFL right now like we saw in New England and Indianapolis five years ago (and if there is, then we just manhandled them last month). So keep your heads up Chiefs Nation, ignore this phone tapping story that will be forgotten by the first big snowstorm, and enjoy the final three games of The Beautiful Game (that is, the NFL sans pass interference - notice how it wasn't called this weekend? Mmmm, poetry).

His Dirkness

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Breaking Down the Chiefs 2011 Schedule (Part Dos)

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**Follow up article**

Breaking Down the Chiefs 2011 Schedule (Part One)

With the Chiefs sitting at 4-3-1 after the first 8 games of the season, lets see what the second half of the schedule has in store. Keep in mind, these are not the official Dirknosstications for the season, but essentially the median of the upcoming Chiefs season. Going by this same analysis, nobody would finish above 11-5 or below 4-12 (easier to be bad than it is to be good). The beauty of the NFL is that any team can over/underachieve simply by winning/losing their close games. That's what the good teams do, and that's what it will take for this team to make the playoffs once again.

On to the back 9, er 8....

Week 10: Denver Broncos
2010 Record: 4-12
Stock Watch: Neard-ing
What's New: The second pick in the NFL Draft, Von Miller, combined with the return of Elvis Dumervil gives the Donks a potentially scary outside pass rush. They also signed Willis McGahee, who should be my most hated player in the NFL following this game.
Outlook: The end of a 3 game home stand, happening before the 5 game stretch of death, screams of a potential glance over game. Luckily, it's a rivalry game, however that didn't help last season, as they almost stole the game at Arrowhead. Hopefully, the Schlonks get off to a bad start on the season and are entering Tebow Time by this point.
Win Potential: 85%

Week 11: @New England Patriots
2010 Record: 14-2
Stock Watch: Feminizing
What's New: Big names Chad Ochojoblow and Fat Albert Haynesworth have done little of note early on for The Flying Elvii. The Pats will also be moving to a base 4-3 defense, in effort to prove they're once again a step ahead of the rest of the league.
Outlook: This is most likely the toughest game on the schedule. It'd be rough enough going into one of the toughest stadiums in the NFL (in the regular season that is....Zzzzzzing!), but the Chiefs get the added pleasure of playing them on Monday Night Football. My best hope for this game is that we're a contender going in and that we keep it close. Or that we hurt Brady again.
Win Potential: 15%

Week 12: Pittsburgh Steelers
2010 Record: 11-5
Stock Watch: Super Bowl loser cursed
What's New: Well, Big Ben hasn't raped anybody this calendar year for a change. And they added Jerricho Cotchery, who has always been a Dirk-nician.
Outlook: The last time the Steelers came into Arrowhead Stadium fresh off a Super Bowl season, they went home defeated. Game two of the 5 game stretch of death, and by my count, the Chiefs need to come away with two victories out of the five. This might be one of their better chances, even if physical teams gave the Chiefs fits last season.
Win Potential: 40%

Week 13: @Chicago Bears
2010 Record: 11-5
Stock Watch: Cutlered in half
What's New: Everybody in the world has seen Jay Cutler for what he truly is, and 7 months isn't enough time for people to forget it. They also stole the ineffective parts of the Cowboys' offense, signing Marion Barber III and Roy "No Tippin" Williams.
Outlook: This will be the easiest of the 5 game stretch of death, even if it does come on the road. I expect the Bears to take more than a few steps back this year after their meltdown on national TV in the NFC Championship. Hell, I can't even figure out how they were good last season.
Win Potential: 45%

Week 14: @New York Jets
2010 Record: 11-5
Stock Watch: Cranium-inflating
What's New: Plaxxxxxxxxx. Hopefully, he gets the Mike Vick treatment and sees total glorification because of his time in the slammer.
Outlook: The Jets have proved me wrong two years running, and if they do so again, I'm ready to anoint Rex Ryan as a top 5 NFL head coach. The absolute blueprint to beating the Chiefs last season was with a top flight CB (Nnamdi, Chump Bailey, etc.) taking D-Bowe out of the game, and focusing the rest of the defense on God Jam Charles. The Chiefs offense had no answer. Hopefully, that problem has been solved this year or else Revis and the Jets might shut us out.
Win Potential: 30%

Week 15: Green Bay Packers
2010 Record: 10-6
Stock Watch: Only one way it doesn't go down
What's New: Lost a few minor pieces (DE Cullen Jenkins), and return a few from injuries (TE JerMichael Finley), but essentially the same team as last season.
Outlook: The Chiefs have a decent history when facing defending Super Bowl champs, especially at Arrowhead (all the way back to Green Bay in the 90's - Sean LaChapelle shoutout). The Chiefs corners will be tested in this one, and not only their top pair, but the reserves as well, which worries me (Javier hasn't shown me much in that role). If the Chiefs win this one, they'll have the Arrowhead crowd to thank.
Win Potential: 35%

Week 16: Oakland Raiders
2010 Record: 8-8
Stock Watch: Wholly blackened
What's New: The Raiders picked up Al Saunders as their Offensive Coordinator. Is he still relevant?
Outlook: The Raiders continue to pose a serious threat towards the Chiefs because they'll have one of the NFL's top running games. And with two teams that thrive at running the ball, I almost throw home field advantage out the window, because that's the best way to neutralize it. So I don't see this game as all that more winnable than the game in Oakland. We cannot lose both games to the Raiders once again. Just can't happen.
Win Potential: 65%

Week 17: @Denver Broncos
2010 Record: 4-12
Stock Watch: Tebownizing
What's New: New head coach John Fox has always been one of the more underrated headsets in the NFL.
Outlook: In all likelihood, the Broncos will be out of the playoff race and will most likely be starting Tim Tebow at this point. For as much flak as Tebow has gotten this preseason (hello Merrill Hoge), his numbers have been pretty good (aside from the game that he attempted 2 passes, which I can't even begin to make sense of). I'm not sure if it'd be more enjoyable to see Tebow fail with the Broncos, or see Denver ship him off and see him succeed elsewhere. Oh, and am I afraid of a must win game in Denver to make the playoffs? Yes, petrified even.
Win Potential: 65%

By my count, the Chiefs will finish the 2011 season with a 7.89 - 8.11 record. I'd say the most commonly predicted record has been 8-8, and the Vegas over/under of 7.5 is very accurate. However, I assure you that there is a 100% chance that I will not predict an 8-8 record.

Alright Crodies, let me see your win potentials on the 16 games this season. It's a good healthy activity. Ecokat would approve.

His Dirkness

Saturday, January 8, 2011

2010 NFL Playoff Predictions

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Chiefs playoff preview extravaganza wrapping up later today, with the keys to victory for our CHIEFSSS!!!!

To get you caught up here's links to anything and everything you need to know this week:



Now for some playoff predictions, which I usually struggle mightily with.....

AFC-

Wildcard Round:
New York Jets over Indianapolis Colts 20-17
Kansas City Chiefs over Baltimore Ravens 20-10

Divisional Round:
New England Patriots over New York Jets 30-14
Pittsburgh Steelers over Kansas City Chiefs 13-7

AFC Championship:
Pittsburgh Steelers over New England Patriots 31-27


NFC-

Wildcard Round:
New Orleans Saints over Seattle Seahawks 24-21
Philadelphia Eagles over Green Bay Packers 28-14

Divisional Round:
New Orleans Saints over Atlanta Falcons 27-10
Philadelphia Eagles over Chicago Bears 23-13

NFC Championship:
Philadelphia Eagles over New Orleans Saints 30-20


Super Bowl:
Pittsburgh Steelers over Philadelphia Eagles 17-13

His Dirkness

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Ranking the Playoff Teams

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This is the follow up article to yesterday's Ranking of the Playoff Quarterbacks piece.

The criteria for today's rankings of the playoff teams are based on their chances to win the Super Bowl. This means that even if I have one team above another on this list, that doesn't necessarily mean that I'd pick that team to win that particular game. It just means they'd have a better chance at winning it all. Potential plays a great role in these rankings.

Take it with you......

1. Pittsburgh Steelers- Whaaa? Not the Patriots?!? Nope, no sir, unh-uh. While I acknowledge the advantage the Patriots hold on the offensive side of the ball, as well as the homefield advantage, I cannot go against the best defense in the league. Combine that with a 2-time Super Bowl winning quarterback, and a team that's peaking at the right time, and you have my Super Bowl XLV favorites. Remember, the only reason the Steelers missed the playoffs last year was because Troy Polamalu (the best player in the NFL) got hurt, at which point they fell apart. I'm sure in their minds, they are still the defending Super Bowl champs.

2. New England Patriots- I really believe the Super Bowl may be decided in the AFC Championship Game between the Steelers and Patriots (haven't we been there before?). New England has overachieved all season long, which is a testament to their coaching. They are not a great team. However, they have played great (there's a difference). Now, if they continue to play at that same level, then they will most likely win the Super Bowl, but it is very difficult to maintain that level throughout the NFL playoffs, when you get every team's best shot. This team does feel a lot more like the Patriots teams of old that won Super Bowls, as opposed to the Patriots teams of recent, who have dominated stat sheets, but come up short in the playoffs.

3. New Orleans Saints- Yes, I declare a team that will have to win 3 road games in order to advance to the Super Bowl the favorites in the NFC. I don't believe in either of the teams with bye weeks in the NFC (the exact opposite of the AFC). The Saints are the one team with Super Bowl experience (besides the Seahawks, but they don't count), which goes a long way in the NFL. They are banged up at the running back position, but since when has that been an issue for the Saints? In fact, it's best to feed a back (even if lesser skilled) with fresh legs this time of year (Shonn Greene last season). And don't forget that they are hypothetically the 5th team with a bye week in these playoffs, with their Seattle draw in the opening round.

4. Atlanta Falcons- No, I'm not fully sold on Matt Ryan's iciness. No, I don't believe the Falcons boast a Super Bowl quality defense (although John Abraham would be the reason they could). I think I got overly soured on the Falcons when Merrill Hoge started spouting off about how the only rushing attack better than the Chiefs was that of the Atlanta Falcons. I'm sorry but 1st > 12th, 164.2 > 118.2, and 4.7 > 3.8. All that said, I will be rooting for Tony G to experience some postseason success for the first time in his career. I should like these Falcons, but I just don't. The good news for the Falcons is that I said most of these same things about the New Orleans Saints last season, and things turned out alright for them.

5. Philadelphia Eagles- Has Michael Vick run out of magic? Or was he a little hampered by injuries that have since healed with his week off? If he returns to his midseason form, then the Eagles could become Super Bowl favorites. The problem is, I haven't seen it for a handful of weeks now. I don't think Vick will ever stay healthy for an entire season again if he continues to put his body in harm's way. However, DeSean Jackson (most explosive player in the NFL), Trent Cole (could be NFL's most underrated player), and Asante Samuel (NFL's best playoff CB) give the Eagles the necessary components to make a run. Remember the rules of Andy Reid though: His teams never lose following a bye week (last week was basically a bye week for the Eagles), and he's one of the worst in-game managers in the NFL (forgets that running the ball is an option, challenges are always an adventure, really needs to hire a 25 year old Madden player as a consultant).

6. Green Bay Packers- The Intercontinental Champion (Rodgers) is looking to join the big boys and become the Heavyweight Champion of the World (seriously, Rodgers must've been a huge WWF fan with all his belt signaling). The Packers are easy to figure out, but tough to solve. They can throw the ball around the schoolyard (extraordinarily good YAC!), play stout defense (surprisingly 2nd in the NFL in points allowed), and can't run the ball worth a lick (Hi, I'm John Kuhn). So in order for Rodgers to make the Shawn Michaels leap (besides Superkicking Marty Jannetty through a glass window-check out that mullet), he'll have to be near perfect (very possible).

7. Baltimore Ravens- The Ravens are all about intimidation. If you can get past their scary superficialities, and look deep down into their souls, then they can be beaten. But that's no easy task. They're strategy is to hit you in the mouth and make you beg for mercy in the 1st quarter. They want to make you think you can't run the ball on them, and gobble up turnovers when you believe that fact. They want you to feel that murder is a real possibility with them, but.....well, nevermind. The Ravens force more teams to fold than any other team in the NFL, but teams that have what it takes to stand up to them can defeat them. Also, Joe Flacco's unibrow is heinous.

8. Indianapolis Colts- The similarities between the Colts 2007 Super Bowl Championship team and this year's team are there: 3 seeds, improved run defense over the course of the season, and struggling through their worst regular seasons of the Peyton is God era. However, the similarities end there. Peyton isn't what he used to be. Dallas Clark isn't walking through those doors. Bob Sanders is in an old folks home somewhere. Jim Caldwell is as pointless as a circle. The Colts could beat the Patriots but could not, would not, beat the Steelers.

9. Chicago Bears- I've doubted da Bears throughout the entirety of the season, and I ain't about to quit now. Butt Ugly Jay Cutler is gonna try and do too much and most likely cost the Bears their first playoff game. Anybody remember how he blew the Broncos' playoff opportunities year after year? Man, I do. It was great. However, I am very impressed by the Bears defense, and would probably rank them 2nd behind the Steelers in that category. Also, playoff games in Chicago are always fun. I like the cold, the good fans, and the overwhelming sense of doom that runs throughout the stadium when anything bad happens.

10. New York Jets- Anybody else tired of Rex Ryan's schtick? We get it Rex, you think your team is great, and you can't wait to tell us all about it. I can't wait till your team encounters major adversity and starts to doubt the bullcorn you've been feeding them since you took over. I'm calling Sexy Rexy doesn't last two more years after this season. He might even get fired before then on account of podophilia (8 year olds, Dude). I also can't wait to see Sanchez blow it, L.T. sit out another playoff game, Santonio Holmes celebrate in the midst of an ass-kicking, Bill Callahan make his face like he's about to yawn, or Antonio Cromartie conceive another child during halftime of one of their games.

11. Kansas City Chiefs- Hate to put my beloved Chiefs this low on the list, but they would have to go through #7, #1, and #2 (most likely) just to even get there. I believe the Chiefs could be better than half of the teams in the NFC, but aren't fortunate enough to share the same path. It was very interesting hearing Trent Dilfer (ESPN's best TV guy) on The Sports Guy's podcast this week utter these surprising words, "I think the Chiefs could really give the Patriots some problems." I almost fell back in my chair at work (crashing into all the finest cheap vodkas we have to offer here at Kreitzer Liquors) when I heard that. His explanation centered around Romeo Crennel being able to control Brady. Now all I want is that opportunity to see if he could possibly be right. Dear 6 pound 8 ounce baby Jesus (I like to picture Jesus as an ice dancer, dressed in an all-white jumpsuit, and doing an interpretive dance of my life), please let this happen.

12. Seattle Seahawks- It will be interesting to see if the Seahawks can ride their homefield momentum wave enough to even draw close to the New Orleans Saints. I'm secretly very excited for this game just because of how much this Seabags team has been mocked nationally throughout the week. Aside from that, I would create a rule that says a team must win atleast 9 games to represent your division in the playoffs. In addition, a team would have to win 10 games in order to host a playoff game. This would end the silly charade of a team like Seattle hosting a playoff game in the future, and would create more purpose for late season games that would be lacking meaning without this rule. Win-win.

Go Chiefs!

His Dirkness

Friday, December 3, 2010

NFL Parity and Power Rankings

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It's the return (the turn, turn). The return (turn, turn). It's the return. It's. The. Return. You're welcome OutKast fans. Thankfully, the aspect that the NFL strives to promote so greatly has returned to the league for the 2010 season: Parity.

After watching the Patriots and Colts dominate the AFC for the last ten years, and lasting through the undefeated stints of the Saints (13-0) and Colts (14-0) in 2009, the 2010 NFL season is void of any true favorite (Yes, the Patriots, Colts, and Saints are still around, but not in the same dominating ways of the past). This is when the NFL thrives. It's a league that depends on the names on the front of the jersey. And it's a league that's designed to give every team a chance at the Super Bowl. We remember the 1999 Rams as fondly as the 49ers/Cowboys/Patriots dynasties.

Despite promoting parity, there has been a certain disparity in the league the last ten years. It seems nobody was ready to handle the salary cap upon its inception in the mid 90's. Teams didn't understand how to build around the cap, which ensured that great teams didn't last more than a handful of years. Then the Patriots and Colts figured things out, got star QB's, and broke the NFL mold by contending for championships every year. Since then, teams have slowly caught up (although, still not all the way), and their franchise QB's have grown older. Suddenly new quarterbacks are mentioned in the same breath (Brees, Rivers, Rodgers, Thigpen - still nobody mentions Ben Roth Biglisberger).

This will inevitably lead to an exciting finish to the season with all the close division races, and a playoffs that's wide open to all 12 teams (well, 11, minus the NFC West winner). So when all you young'in's are ordering rounds of shots this weekend, make sure you toast to parity, the most underrated aspect in all of sports, and the difference between a good NFL season and a great NFL season (there are no bad NFL seasons, although 2009 was as close as it gets).

Previous NFL Power Rankings:


Week 13 NFL Power Rankings:

1. Atlanta Falcons
2. Pittsburgh Steelers
3. New Orleans Saints
4. New York Jets
5. New England Patriots
6. Philadelphia Eagles
7. Green Bay Packers
8. Baltimore Ravens
9. San Diego Chargers
10. Chicago Bears
11. New York Giants
12. Kansas City Chiefs
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
14. Indianapolis Colts
15. Miami Dolphins
16. Jacksonville Jaguars
17. Cleveland Browns
18. Oakland Raiders
19. Washington Redskins
20. St. Louis Rams
21. Houston Texans
22. Buffalo Bills
23. Tennessee Titans
24. Minnesota Vikings
25. Seattle Seabags
26. Detroit Lions
27. Dallas Cowboys
28. San Francisco 49ers
29. Denver Broncos
30. Arizona Cardinals
31. Cincinnati Bengals
32. Carolina Panthas

Power Ranking Statistical Analysis:

Biggest Risers (compared to my Week 7 Rankings):
1. San Diego Chargers +14
2. Cleveland Browns +12
2. Oakland Raiders +12
4. Jacksonville Jaguars +11
5. Buffalo Bills +10
5. Chicago Bears +10

Biggest Fallers:
1. Tennessee Titans -14
2. Cincinnati Bengals -12
3. Minnesota Vikings -10
4. Seattle Seahawks -8
5. Indianapolis Colts -7

Most Overrated Teams (compared against ESPN's Power Rankings):
1. Baltimore Ravens -4
2. Tennessee Titans -4
3. Houston Texans -4

Most Underrated Teams:
1. Cleveland Browns +7
2. Detroit Lions +5
2. Buffalo Bills +5

H'dirkness

Monday, August 9, 2010

What's New Around the AFC?

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The NFL Preview Extravaganza continues, putting the Chiefs to the side momentarily, and putting the spotlight on their competitors for the coveted Lamar Hunt Trophy. Every team is about a week in to training camp by this point, and we were even got to sit through treated to some awful football last night for the first time this season (the highlight was the Cowboys play to down a punt at the 1 yard line, a play that is oftentimes faltered). So look back to this post when your making your preseason prognostications, as some in-depth analysis is sure to follow...

AFC WEST

Denver Broncos- The Donkeys lost their best two players from last year in Brandon Marshall and Elvis Dumervil, along with a host of others (like rookie receiver Demaryius Thomas, who was one of my early favorites for Rookie of the Year before getting hurt). I think McDaniels is a good coach, but not that good. The Broncos are gonna be terrible, unless they drafted Jesus H. Christ or something…

Oakland Raiders- Jason Campbell is their guy now. He's adjusting to a 9th learned system in his quarterbacking career. Or as Ferris Bueller's principal puts it, 'niiiine times'. Seriously though, nine different systems! This leads me to believe he could make for an intriguing option in the future after he's allowed to truly learn one.

San Diego Chargers- They have some serious issues right now with the holdouts of Vincent Jackson, Marcus McNeill and Entourage star Shawne Merriman (nice cameo, chump. Just because I wanted you in the offseason does not change the fact that I despise you.) All three players are threatening to sit out until Week 10, which is commonly said but rarely followed through upon. However, the bigwigs say it's a bigger possibility this year due to the looming holdout that could be on the way come 2011. On a side note, there was one hilarious admission out of Chargers camp, about how things got awkward when the team had to lessen the role of the self-anointed "Classiest player in the League," LaDainianson. Stay classy, sally. Have fun carrying Shonn Greene's shoulder pads.

AFC EAST

Biffalo Buffs- They hired Thigbone architect, Chan Gailey, as head coach. Although not a sexy name, he will make a good coach down the road. Not this year. The Bills should be one of the worst teams in the league. Too much transition with not enough talent. With their bevy of running backs (Marshawn Lynch, Fred Jackson, and C.J. Spiller) they should run the wishbone.

Miami Dolphins- Love the Dolphins. I believe they were the team that went through some tough times last year, lost some close games, and was truly better than their record. Then they added Karlos Dansby and Brandon Marshall. Chad Henne is on his way to becoming a good quarterback, he might still be a year away. I'll have the Dolphins in the playoffs this year.

New England Patriots- Interesting how the expectation levels have dropped for the Patriots, Tom Brady, and Tom Brady's hair. Rumor has it they have to eat a roster spot with his ever-growing locks. Good to see I'm not the only one listening to White Flight these days, with all the Boston ladies singing: "I wanna rub my fingers through your mane." These seem to be the conditions the Patriots thrive in. Although, I won't hop on the bandwagon until my boy Dave, the biggest in-the-closet Patriots fan of all time, breaks his streak of nine straight Patriot championship predictions. Nine times. One of the least talked about dynasties of this age. This is the year we find out if the stake has truly been planted in their Beliheart.

New York Jets- The biggest secret in the NFL is that the Jets are gonna suck. Every year there is a majority thinking on the surprise team of the NFL. More often than not, this team gets dragged down by overinflated expectations. The Jets seem to be the consensus this year. Need me remind you that the Jets were 7-7 last year before the Colts and Bengals, teams already in the playoffs, laid down for them, allowing them to sneak in the playoffs where they put together a nice little run? They're still reliant on Mark Sanchez, who threw 12 touchdowns and 20 interceptions last year. I understand the defense, but mark my words, the Jets won't finish over .500. And if you're still slobbin' the Jets knob, check out this noteworthy anecdote, courtesy of the Evil Empire:

***Revis is leaning heavily on his uncle and role model Sean Gilbert, who sat out the entire 1997 season before being traded from the Washington Redskins to the Carolina Panthers, where he landed the seven-year, $46.5 million deal he wanted.***

AFC SOUTH

Houston Texans- The team everybody wants to break out every season since their inception. Wait, was that thought mine? Or somebody else's? Damn you, Leo-Di! Not much has changed which could mean more of the same. In other news, I will be attending my first Chiefs road game in Week 6 at Houston. I'm still not sure if I'm more excited for that or the Monday Night home opener. Turns out there are some cool things about adulthood!

Indianapolis Colts- When is that pesky injury bug going to bite Peyton Manning? Doesn't it seem like it might be time for it? Tom Brady's came after a Super Bowl defeat. Just saying. Nothing is new with the Colts. They'll slumber though the near-meaningless regular season, with all judgment reserved for postseason success. I did love their Jerry Hughes pick, one of my favorites for Defensive Rookie of the Year, and somebody I'd at least consider trading Eric Berry straight up for.

Jacksonville Jaguars- Hard to say much about the Jaguars, so I'll leave it to an awesome offseason site I just discovered at www.walterfootball.com, who has this to say:

***The Jaguars are the laziest team in the NFL. They try hard in only two scenarios: If they're playing a divisional opponent or if they're a big underdog. Here's last year's proof:

Divisional Games (6): 3-3 (4-2 against the spread), 24.5 ppg, +1.5 point differential.
Non-Divisional Games (10): 4-6 (1-9 against the spread), 14.3 ppg, -9.9 point differential.***

Tennessee Titans- I hear Chris Johnson (who I love) yapping about rushing for 2,500 yards this year, which sounds like the mating call of the infirmary report. Warning to fantasy freaks and geeks, he was overworked last year and has higher aspirations this year. Oh well, he still led Bob Loblaw's Law Blog to a fantasy championship last year. The Titans lost a lot on defense, but don't count on Jeff Fisherstache leading back to back disappointing teams.

AFC NORTH

Baltimore Ravens- Definitely love the Anquan Boldin acquisition and the Ray Rice emergence. One of my favorites for the Super Bowl, as of right now, although Joe Flacco remains a question mark. Win or lose, Ray Lewis ranks as the best football player in totality of my lifetime. The Ravens have cycled through so much defensively, whether it be coordinators (Marvin, Singletary, Ryan) or players, but have always remained feared throughout his entire career. And he was the main cog in the most dominating unit I have laid eyes on, the Baltimore Ravens defense from 2000. Most people would automatically choose a quarterback, which I believe to be a flawed way of thinking.

Cincinnati Bengals- Hard to believe, but the Bengals transformed into a hard-nosed defensive/pounding the rock team. They won in spite of the pretty boys that remained from their aerial attack. In comes Terrell Owens (along with strip club buddies Pacman Jones and the Coke Zero version of Matt Jones), who I've always quietly been a fan of. He's no more of a diva than any other star receiver, and there's never been a doubt that he's bringing it on Sundays. Dude just wants to win. And maybe a little bit of attention. Now his teammate, his quarterback (cue the water works), Carson Palmer, must step up to give the Bungles a chance against a first place schedule this year (Hello SD, NE, and Indy!).

Cleveland Browns- Is this the year my boy, Seneca Wallace, finally gets his shot? I'm throwing down money on them to win it all if it is. They don't have much else on offense, besides some guy named Jerome Harrison, but surely any decent defense could shut him down. Oh, wait, he had how many yards? 286? That can't be right…Don't' worry Cleveland, there's always basketball season. Oh, wait…Maybe they can just get Delonte West to sleep with Mangini's wife or something…

Pittsburgh Steelers- Playing at least the first four games of the year without Big Ben. I'm pretty sure Lil' Ben has been suspended for the entire year. No telling when we might see the lil' guy again, but keep an eye out if the Steelers visit your hometown. At least he's not sending pictures of it over his phone. Or even worse, a hanging sack in the photo roll. Few people remember the Steelers dropped off last year way before Big Ben's JNCO's. They couldn't even limp into the playoffs. However, the schedule doesn't stiffen until after the refractory period, but expectations could go from six to midnight if the Pocket Rocket, Byron Leftwich, doesn't wilt to premature expectations. No homo.


NFC Preview coming soon!!!!!!

H'Dirkness
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