the confusion that is the East and North, I think we find some
AFC sanity in the South and West. Simply put… Indianapolis and
San Diego look to be the best. And then again…
and Denver are on the cusp of playoff possibilities. Tennessee
isn’t that far removed from a season where they weren’t expected
to do much and delivered a regular season demolition.
place where sanity really reigns here? Jacksonville… Kansas City…
Oakland… well, they simply aren’t making the leap to an even record,
regardless of how well they play.
also think we know what we are likely to get. Indianapolis should
win the South. San Diego should win the West. New England… Miami…
New York… all of them could win the East. Cincinnati and Pittsburgh…
good… bad… indifferent… who knows?
a clarity of sorts here.
Sure there is.)
(10 – 6) ~ Unless you believe that Curtis Painter is
going to rise from the bench, take the field, and lead the Colts
to glory, the discussion begins and ends with Peyton Manning.
the defense has some names you are obviously familiar with. But
we’ve watched some of those names get injured, and the band plays
the revolving door of wide receivers and expectations has continued
to go round and round, and the band plays on.
conductor of this band is Manning. Witness last season… Indy against
Miami. Needing 24 points for victory, and only being given something
like 90-seconds of offensive possession over the entire 60-minute
game, Manning brought them to 27 points and the win. Witness last
season… Indy against New England. Good lord, do I really need
to recap that one?
on the field… 10 to 10-plus wins, playoff spot assured.
off the field… won’t win 5.
(9 – 7) ~ Funny thing about Houston… they probably have
taken aim at their own feet more than any other club since I’ve
been writing pieces like this. That may not be entirely true,
but it’s not far off either.
season, they lost to the Jets in the opener, and struggled to
recover the rest of the year… despite looking good and playing
well at times.
when I pick the games against the spread, it seems like Houston
loses games I fully believe they will win, and wins games I view
as obvious losses.
what does the schedule lead us to believe about this team?
starts with Indy at home. Then they travel to Washington and host
Dallas. So that’s two potential division winners (Colts and Cowboys)
and a club I keep hearing solid things about (Redskins… though
I’m skeptical of them).
one of those games, and the Texans are ok. Win two… good. Win
three… well, absolutely brilliant, but let’s not get ahead of
that opening is followed by Oakland, New York (Giants) and Kansas
City. And that means I see 3-3 and even 4-2 as very, very possible
if they can stay focused and play and win just 1 of the first
3. If they can accomplish that, it could get them into the playoff
discussion. But after that bye week, they will be facing consistently
tough opponents… two against the Titans, the Colts again, the
Jets, the Ravens… and, yeah, a lackluster early effort could once
again create late season heartbreak. If they don’t manage to be
at least even after 6 games, they will have dug a hole there is
no escape from. And… their history suggests that when opportunity
knocks, their team heads for the shovels.
the world is beginning to understand, the best wide receiver in
football calls Houston home… and Johnson is coming off of a monster
season… 101 receptions and almost 1,600-yards.
may recall that I made fun of Buffalo for having Owens and Evans
last season and that they didn’t combine for 100 catches. Well…
in Houston… the number two and three receivers on the club joined
up for 97 in 2009.
may recall that I made fun of Cincinnati for scoring 20-plus in
just 6 contests. Well… in Houston… the Texans scored fewer than
20 in just 5 games.
club has the ability to be much, much better than you think.
question they need to answer though is very simple… can they get
to at least 3-3?
(8 – 8) ~ The year was 2008. Tom Brady was hurt… and
the 16-0 of the 2007 New England regular season was long in the
rear view mirror. In fact, with New England playing inconsistent
football (they finished the 2008 year with a good record, but
didn’t make the playoffs), the AFC postseason was a wide open
race filled with unexpected contributors like Miami and Tennessee.
in 2008, all they did was sprint out to a 10-0 start. All they
did was finish 13-3.
that’s what has me wondering about 2010. Because… yeah… they could
do it again.
Johnson is the best player in football right now… bar none. An
unstoppable force. So powerful that Vince Young need only be barely
average and the Titans will have a comfortable and stable offense.
my problem though. In four games last season against New England,
San Diego and Indianapolis (twice), our Tennessee team surrendered…
get ready for it… 159 points. Some of the opponents last season
that didn’t score 40 against them included those high-wire and
end-zone-dancing acts Seattle, St. Louis, and Buffalo.
you starting to see my issues?
it smoke? Is it mirrors? If you take away the lighting, sound
and special effects, do they still look as threatening?
will they respond against good teams? That will settle their season.
They look good. But not very good.
(7 – 9) ~ The Jaguars have a schedule that could make
me look very, very foolish. But I’d be willing to bet that they
could come out of the gate 1-4… 4-1… and anything else in between.
That’s Denver, San Diego, Philadelphia, Indianapolis and Buffalo
to start things off. They’ll get one win. They’ll get one loss.
But where either will happen is a mystery. In reality, all of
those games could go either way. Supply a running attack like
the Jaguars start out with, and you got me on what may take place
that start for every Dallas there’s a Kansas City… for every Indianapolis
there’s a Cleveland… and frankly there are more so-so clubs than
good ones from the looks of it.
if Jones-Drew stays healthy and the club plays consistent and
well… I’ll look darn foolish.
trouble is… Maurice Jones-Drew is not Chris Johnson. He’s incredibly
good, and he knows how to find the end zone. He will have at least
two games where he single-handedly embarrasses an opponent. Not
defeats an opponent… embarrasses them.
will he lead them to a winning record? Nah.
Diego (11 – 5) ~ Funny thing about San Diego… go read
my introduction to Houston, because it really almost works here
as well. Watch…
aim at their own feet…”
season… struggled to recover the rest of the year…”
check… double-check… those descriptions work. And every time you
think that maybe they’ve got it all figured out, couldn’t possibly
get fooled again, a little humility and lessons from life go a
long way… the media tells you this time they have it right and
look out for the Chargers and oh-no-here-we-go-again. They deliver
some surprises, but it’s the same ending. Promises of cake and
parties building and building, but leading ultimately to cries
of what might be next year.
though, I’ve got little alternative but to believe the hype. (At
least for the regular season.) Two things to consider…
one… maybe Denver could offer them a challenge, but Kansas City
and Oakland just can’t.
two… this year it would take Norv Turner actually walking on to
the field in pads and not just his masterful coaching blunders
to screw it up. The schedule starts with Kansas City, Jacksonville,
Seattle, Arizona, Oakland and St. Louis. Four of those are road
games… with the two toughest, Jacksonville and Arizona at home.
That means in addition to quite possibly a 6-0 start, they have
most of the last 10 at home. Plus… they never head all the way
to the east coast.
mean… it’s literally all there for the taking. If people are talking
about the San Diego machine plowing over everyone in about 8 to
10 weeks and you are starting to believe the hype at that point,
then shame on you because this one is easy to see coming.
course… there is Norv. He loses games at home that shouldn’t be
contests. He snatches defeat from the jaws of victory. What you
should see is that this will end badly. (But… it should be a fun
ride before that end.)
(9 – 7) ~ I want to like Denver, but I have this really
strange feeling that they don’t know who they are just yet.
seemed to find a diamond in the rough with Orton last year… but
eyes looking at Denver want to know when Tebow might play.
top 2009 wide receiver is in Miami now.
running backs are led by someone that looked good last season…
Moreno… but that didn’t cross the 1,000-yard mark for the year.
offensive questions. Surely they have a defensive juggernaut ready
to go. Right?
2009 the Denver defense held their first six opponents to 11 points
per game (and 3 of them to 7 or less). Then, bye week, and the
explosion started… Baltimore defeated them 30-7, and over four
contests they gave up that 30 plus 28, 27 and 32 respectively
while dropping to 6-4. They finished 8-8… meaning they went 2-8
down the stretch… and looked exhausted.
wait before trusting them.
City (6 – 10) ~ If the Chiefs can get two receivers over
the 50-catch mark, they could become a fun team to watch. (Last
season the top two receivers combined for 87 receptions.)
a group of unheralded players in the huddle with Matt Cassel,
and a group of first, second and third year players on the full
roster. You and I both have better things to do than sharing 500…
300… even 200 words on the Chiefs.
Good. Moving on…)
(5 – 11) ~ Don’t get me wrong when I say this… because
I thought Jason Campbell had some good games in Washington, and
he wasn’t completely at fault out there.
see, um, yeah… he’s Jason Campbell. Right? Washington thought
so much of him that they replaced him with a quarterback that
is going to be 34 this season and has an injury history. (And…
yup… already is injured.)
2009 running game featured 3 guys that played in 12 games… one
in all 16… and none of those top 3 backs hit 600-yards for the
offense is going to be putting a ton of pressure on the defense.