The Electric Commentary

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

NFL Preview, Parts 4 and 5

I fell behind so I'm going to have to take on some two-a-days.

Let's start with the AFC West. What can I say about Denver. It's the same old, same old situation. And Jake Plummer is the same old ball and chain. (Yeah.) Last year they were 10-6. The year before that they were 10-6. The year before that they were 9-7. So, a solid bet for this year is 9-7 or 10-6. We know that Mike Anderson can run (as long as Ron Dayne doesn't have any influence. By the way, what's up with Mr. "Why can't dip be a meal" anyway? I mean, I know that the theory is that anyone can run behind that line, but not only did he run behind that line, he beat out Quentin and Maurice!). We know that Jake Plummer only plays well when Peter King is watching. We know that Ashley Lelie and Darius Watts will underachieve, and that Champ Bailey will shut down the tight ends that he faces. And we know that Lenny Walls is tall.

They've also improved in the punting department with the addition of Todd Sauerbrun.

Is there any reason to expect anything different this year? Maybe.

The competition in the AFC West is improved. The Chiefs are better, the Chargers are apparently pretty good, and the Raiders added Randy Moss and Lamont Jordan. So where do I think the Broncos end up? Tied with the Chargers, in second, at 9-7 or so.

What of the Chargers? I think that a tougher division will bring them back down to earth. I also think that last season's 12-4 mark is probably a statistical outlier. I still think that Chargers are a good team with good weapons (Tomlinson, Gates, McCardell), but I feel that the schedule monster may bite them bigtime. Check out these out-of-division games:

@New England (Oct 2, coming off a Monday Nighter against the Giants in San Diego)
Pitt (Oct. 10)
@ Philly (Oct 23)
@ NY Jets (Nov 6)
Buffalo (Nov 20th, which could be chilly)
@ Indianapolis (Dec 18th)

Put that together with the 6 divisional games and you're looking at a rather steep mountain. I think that this team takes a step back, and may even miss the playoffs if they're not lucky.

So if those two teams tie for second, who's first and who's last?

I like KC to win the West, and the Raiders to bring up the rear.

Now the rear probably won't be that bad. Somewhere around 8-8, but I don't like Randy Moss on grass (either kind), I don't like the vertical passing attack (I think it creates too many turnovers), and I don't like their defense. According to NFL.com, the following people make up the LB corps and secondary for the Raiders: Nnamdi Asomugha, Stuart Schweigert, Derrick Gibson, Charles Woodson (who has declined a bit, in my opinion), Tyler Brayton, Danny Clark, and Grant Irons.

I think that they are going to have major problems stopping people this year. Actually, I think they look a lot like last year's Minnesota Vikings team. If I'm right, they'll score plenty of points, but still get smoked in a competitive division (there are no Bears or Lions to beat up on in the West).

Which leaves us with the Chiefs. I think that picking the Chiefs is a bit risky. They're kind of old. Trent Green is no spring chicken, Priest Holmes looks like he's in a prime "Marshall Faulk" style decline, and their receivers are still unimpressive (although Kennison is underrated).

So why them? I think they still have enough on offense behind what is still a very good offensive line. Larry Johnson is an adequate backup should Priest suffer an injury. But most importantly, they revamped their defense (finally). Sammy Knight and Patrick Surtain now anchor an above average secondary. And the oft-injured Kendrell Bell will bring some respectability to the linebackers.

Dante Hall is still there to receive preferential treatment from the refs on special teams as well.

I see a big year for these guys as long as injuries and Lawrence Tynes don't get in their way. They'll take the West in a close race.

In conclusion, Jake Plummer sucks.

Let's head across the nation to the AFC East, home of the defending champion New England Patriots. In the East we find a great QB, a good QB, a bad QB, and the Miami Dolphins QB.

Tom Brady is the great QB. (Before people start leaving annoying comments about how Brady is overrated or underrated or how Peyton Manning is actually a woman, please note that Brady has always been consistent, and has actually been getting better over time. He always completes 60% of his passes or more, always throws about 12 picks, and always throws 23-28 TD passes. It's nice to be able to bank on this kind of performance. And no, he's not better than Peyton Manning.) The Pats should still be quite good. Rumor has it that they're run defense is suspect, which you would expect with the loss of Tedy Bruschi.

This could actually spell some trouble for the champs. I try to look at things that have secondary effects, and allowing the opponent to have a strong running game could have profound effect. The defense will be on the field longer, the offense may have to take a few more risks, and the secondary may be exposed a bit.

I think that none of these things will actually happen because Bill Belichik won't let it. I also think that they Patriot offense will improve (I really like the receiving corps). I think they're back to their old dominant selves, badda bing, badda boom. They win the East, surprising no one.

If anyone can sneak past the Pats, it will be the Jets, featuring good but not great QB Chad Pennington. He may be great someday, and if he can replicate his 2002 performance someday may be soon, but first he needs to prove that his shoulder has fully recovered.

I'd be higher on the Jets, but they have a bit too much faith in Curtis Martin for my tastes. One of these days he is going to experience a decline. Will it be this year? I don't know. But I do know that they lost Lamont Jordan to the Raiders, and as a result, the Jets are operating without a net.

That said, I think that Pennington will recover and I like Lavranues a lot more than Santana Moss. Justin McCareins should be an adequate compliment on the other side. The defense looks fine, maybe even slightly improved. The schedule isn't easy, but it's also not overly difficult. I see the Jets in the 10-6 range, making the playoffs, and causing some teams to have fits.

I also see rookie kicker Mike Nugent honking a big kick at some point. I've seen my team play the "draft a kicker" game before. Not smart.

Ah, the Bills. Poor J.P. Losman. He just doesn't look very good. And really, other than being young, he doesn't have much of an excuse. Eric Moulds and Lee Evans are both above average WRs, Willis McGahee has looked good, and the defense features Troy Vincent, Lawyer Milloy, TKO Spikes, London Fletcher, Sam Adams, etc. Not too shabby. Everything that goes wrong in Buffalo will be put squarely on him, and with backup extraordinaire Kelly Holcomb lurking on the depth chart, his days are probably numbered.

The question of the day is, are the Bills good enough to win with a below average QB? I think they are, but having New England and the Jets in the division leaves them little room for error. They start with Houston, followed by the entire NFC South. If they get off to a fast start they may be able to sneak into wild card contention, but I don't see it. I think the Bills will be a big disappointment. I think they will have chaos at the QB position all year.

More than anything, I don't see how they have improved over last year's team. They were 9-7 last year with Drew Bledsoe, and while Drew was occasionally a disaster, I've seen nothing that would lead me to believe that Losman will lead a superior offense. They'll finish under .500, and out of the playoffs.

Calling the Miami QB situation bad would be an insult to bad QBs everywhere. It is impressive to think that this team failed to improve on Jay Fiedler in the offseason. It is also worth noting that Fiedler, of Dartmouth, and therefore smarter than your average NFL player, got out while the getting was good (well, maybe a year after the getting was good).

This team stinks. They have a bad offensive line, bad QBs, a college coach, and Ricky Willams and David Boston on the same team. The defense is still OK, but so what? They're going to be exhausted all the time because they're never going to get off of the field. They were 4-12 last year, and they might squeak out another 1-2 wins this year, but I don't expect much, and I doubt that I'll even get that.

In conclusion, Jake Plummer sucks.

1 Comments:

  • "But I do know that they lost Lamont Jordan to the Raiders, and as a result, the Jets are operating without a net."

    Not true. We brought in the more-than-serviceable Derrick Blaylock and have rookie Cedric Houston as the change of pace back. If anything, Curtis will get a breather more, and he'll be just as fresh as he was last year with LaMont. I wasn't happy about losing Jordan, but I like what we did to make up for it.

    Also, our defense will be fast and tough this year. Jonny Vilma is incredible, and our secondary is MUCh improved from last year, which was much improved from the year before. I gotta tell ya, it would be seriously foolish to sleep on the Jets this year.

    By Blogger Ace Cowboy, at 2:37 PM  

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