Who has the bite, and who will just be barking? In the NFL, there are those that disappoint and those that surprise; the teams that come out barking don't always have the bite to back it up while others show up with sharper teeth than anyone reckoned they had in their head. It is the nature of the fan to be optimistic (well, unless you live in Raider Nation) for their team, and most fans have usually been overly so when it comes to the predicted success of the franchise in the upcoming schedule.
First, we'll dispense with the obvious. The Big Dog in the AFC is simply Indianapolis. They were dominant, and would be the reigning champions right now if they simply didn't run into an even more potent offense in New Orleans.
After that though, it gets kind of murky. However, I'm willing to put my butt on the line and try to identify those who'll be filling those roles this season. The next seven months will show whether I had any teeth, or if I was just barking up the wrong tree.
My Dogs...the big boys who will have the bite to back it up.
Baltimore...this is more a statement of how hard their division (North) has nosedived than it is of how great they'll be. They'll win the division handily and get a #2 Seed.
New England...as much as I hate to admit it, until this team doesn't have double-digit wins I'm not buying tales of the Dark Lord's demise. This much evil is not so easy to kill. #3 Seed.
San Diego...this is kind of like Baltimore, in that their division (in this case the West) is not that good. A #4 Seed looks likely to me, and another early exit from the playoffs for Norv and Mr. Rivers.
Miami...This team got better through the Draft and FA, and has played right with the Colts and Saints, having had both on the ropes. This will be a #5 Seed imho, and will actually beat their first opponent (whom I believe will be San Diego).
Houston...This is the year I think they break through, and they will do it against a very tough division (South). #6 Seed and then Schaub and Johnson will have to watch their defense contend with Moss and Welker and Brady.
My Frogs...the guys who have warts, yet the fans keep hoping that they'll suddenly wake up and their team will turn into the Victorious Prince.
Pittsburgh...has lost it's #1 WR in Holmes for good and it's QB in Big Ben for six games. They'll be hard-pressed to make it to the playoffs. I don't think they will, and the aforementioned Ben better start getting prepared to move on in 2011 (just mho)
Cleveland...a lot of improvement but still too early for them to make a play for the North. They'll pass up Pittsburgh in the standings, and in Cuyahoga County that counts as a winning season regardless of the record.
Jacksonville...look, they'll play hard and they won't be terrible, but without Tebow they'll be giving tickets away and still playing before an empty house. They are the Marlins of Football. The guy they drafted in the first round was a shock to EVERYONE except themselves.
Denver...Josh MacD finally has the team he wants. Kyle Orton and Jabar Gaffney. Okayyyyy...uh, btw, BOTH the new WRs the Broncos got, DemaryiusThomas and Eric Decker, are returning from foot injuries. Well, at least they can sell Tebow jerseys in the Bronco souvenier shop.
My Hogs...these guys make a lot of racket but when it comes down to it they stink. All they ever really amount to in the end is a meal for the others.
Cincinnati...has added PacMan Jones and Gibril Wilson to the most overrated team in the NFL. Yeah, they're going to dominate. Goodbye Marvin Lewis, you won't survive the imminent reversion to about a 6-11 team. Well, maybe Ocho Stinko will lobby to become the HC.
New York (J)...Come on, people. Yes, I know they made it to the AFC Championship game. This team has been 9-7 two years running, should have been 7-9 in '09 and just sent one of the best RBs in the AFC packing. Oh, and they're replacing Faneca (9 Pro Bowls and 6 All-Pros) with Vlad Ducasse, a Tackle from UMass they are going to convert to Guard. Their defense will be very good, but it will have to be, because their offense will sputter.
Tennessee...Yes, I know they have a good coach. Yes, I know they have a good RB. That cuts both ways. Even with an excellent HC and a RB that was having a season for the ages they were mediocre.
We'll also forego the obvious at this end of the spectrum. Will Oakland stink? Uh, is Al Davis still in charge? If yes, then you have to believe there is a good chance of precisely that...again. Kansas City had too many holes; they'll be decent but are still 1-2 years away. Getting Thomas Jones was an excellent move, though. Buffalo? Please. The only team without a bonafide franchise QB in place in the East is not where I'd want to be.
There you have my bark for Mother's Day week. Woof! Woof!
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