Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Bounced Out

I was listening to Mike & Mike last week, and they were talking about for the past 10 years, at least five teams that made the playoffs the previous year didn't come back the next year. That got me thinking about this coming year and who's not making it, and I realized that I wanted to start blogging again. It's much easier to get your thoughts straight when you're typing them out. 

I think there are three teams that are easy to "eliminate": 

  • Seattle: The first under .500 playoff team. They're starting Tarvaris Jackson (who I like more than Charlie Whitehurst, but c'mon) and their division rivals got better. I don't think the Rams or Cardinals are ready to contend, but they're probably better than Seattle. I also have zero faith in Pete Carroll as an NFL coach.  
  • Kansas City: I love Matt Cassel from his Pats days, but last year felt really fluky. I don't think Dwayne Bowe or Jamaal Charles can repeat years like they had last season, and I definitely don't think the Chargers are letting them take the division again. 
  • Chicago: Did anyone outside of Chicago have faith in the Bears last year? I sure as hell didn't. They just didn't make an impression on me; there were damn near none where I thought they deserved to win. If the Stafford stays healthy, I think the Lions could jump them for 2nd behind the Packers. 
After those three it gets tough for me. The Packers have a ton of talent coming back from injury and I think they'll be hungry to prove that they can make this team better, so I doubt there'll be any Super Bowl hangover. Then Philly went crazy in free agency and added tons of talent. Unless Vick gets hurt, I'm pretty sure they're in. The Saints had an amazing draft and added a few key free agents too, so I think they'll reclaim that division. Everyone else though, I've got questions about (yes, my Pats too).

With all the defensive linemen we added, will there be enough time for any of them to learn the playbook? Will we finally succumb to the Jets and fall to 2nd in the division? Did the Jets get worse by losing Brad Smith and Braylon Edwards or can their two "new" old receivers fill in? They lost pass rushers too and their defense is aging, can it perform like it did last year? When anyone mentions aging defenses, Baltimore's automatically in the discussion. Ray Lewis and Ed Reed are on their way out, can they keep up their success? Will Flacco be able to survive on offense without his two favorite targets gone? We still don't know if Pittsburgh has an offensive line, and they're awful every year after they make a Super Bowl. Peyton's neck is also scary, can they make the playoffs for an insane 10th straight year? Atlanta's the only NFC team I'm unsure about, but that's got nothing to do with them. They changed, but I'm not sure if they improved. If they don't make the playoffs, it'll be because of New Orleans and Tampa Bay more so than themselves. 

There could be a lot of turnover in the AFC. This could be one of those years where only three or four of the previous years playoff teams makes it back. Since there have been at least five though, I'll pick two more:

  • Baltimore: I don't think both the Ravens and the Steelers are making the playoffs again. The reason I'm picking Baltimore to miss out is roster turnover. Flacco relied on Derrick Mason and Todd Heap too much for there to be no impact of them leaving. If he had a full summer with the 2nd year TE's and a veteran receiver (they have to sign one), I might think differently. It's also another year of Ray Lewis and Ed Reed getting older, and I'm not sure if they can still hold up. 
  • Indianapolis: Ten straight years. In NFL terms, that's a ridiculous number that means insane consistency in everything: roster strength, drafting, and quality of play. It didn't matter who the Colts lost, they had a replacement. Running backs, receivers, linemen; it didn't matter who left, the next man always stepped up. After a couple bad drafts and with Peyton's neck injury, I'm not sure if they can stay at that level. The division doesn't scare me at all, but *gasp!* it just might be the Texans' year. 
If it's not the Colts, it's the Jets. I think Sanchez was the luckiest QB in the NFL last year and I think they lost better players than they added. The AFC East's probably the toughest division in the NFL now too. Picking the Colts over them came down to me trusting Rex Ryan more than I trust Jim Caldwell. They could easily be a 6th team that doesn't make it. 

Next up: the five teams that'll make it in place of these five. 

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