These team probably scares me the most out of any, and that kills me to say as a diehard Steeler fan. Boldin gives them a legitimate threat now in the passing game. Flacco should have a breakout season in year three. Ray Rice (My #4 Overall Fantasy Pick) is a smaller version of 2000 Marshall Faulk. The defense is disgusting and will be even more vile once Ed Reed aka Young Redd Foxx comes back from his hip surgery. Gah! I hate myself now.
2. Pittsburgh Steelers (10-6)
The Roethlisberger suspension absolutely kills them here. If Ben was playing the first four games, they go a minimum of 3-1. Now it is at best 2-2, likely worst. Once Ben comes back, however, they should be ready to go. I am kind of worried about Rashard Mendenhall for some reason. I feel like he'll be one of those running backs who will have a 3.0 YPC, a Tim Hightower type back. I am begging that he is wrong, because eventually Roethlisberger's luck will run out due to the fact he'll be throwing the ball 40 times a game if their running attack sucks again. The defense really depends on Troy Polamalu, who is one more concussion away from turning into a pile of mush. Their linebackers are as strong as ever, and if they do not give up a kickoff return touchdown a game, they should make it into the playoffs.
3. Cincinnati Bengals (7-9)
Poor Carson Palmer. He is going to have to live with Owens and "Ochocinco" constantly complaining about not getting the ball enough. I am not even sure Palmer is good anymore. Let's be honest, did Palmer ever really recover from his injury? I had him on my fantasy team last year and his weekly stats were somewhere along the lines of: 9-20, 155 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT. 6 fantasy points from a QB is not going to cut it. The defense seems a little shaky, and in a top-heavy division, the Bengals are thrown somewhere in the middle.
4. Cleveland Browns (2-14)
Every year, there is one team where you look at their roster and you say: "Hey! This team has a chance to go 0-16!" This year it is the awful Cleveland Browns. Jake Delhomme is a shell of himself. Honestly, I think they would be better if Josh Cribbs spent the entire game as the quarterback in the Wildcat offense. They have no offense and no defense. It will be another long year for Cleveland fans, doing nothing to distract them from LeBron.
1. Indianapolis Colts (13-3)
The number one seed in the AFC, and easily too. Even though they play in one of the tougher divisions in football, they will still get it done with little effort/emotion. They have their deepest receiving core in years, with Anthony Gonzalez finally at full health. If Bob Sanders can actually stay healthy for the entire season, the Colts will be scary good. That is asking a lot, because Bob Sanders has played eight games the past two seasons, and played in only two more games than I did last season. Even without Sanders, they are still the team to beat in the AFC.
2. Tennessee Titans (10-6)
I don't really like the Titans. In fact I kind of hate them. Ever since they stomped on the Terrible Towel in 2008 I have really hated them (But the Steelers won the Super Bowl that year so take that! Ha!) Chris Johnson obviously will not have the same season as last year, but he is still a breakout player. I am not really crazy about Vince Young. He is after all, a member of the East Fragile Psyche All-Star Squad. The receiving core is already pretty weak to begin with, and when you have a quarterback with sub par skills, you are asking for trouble. As usual, the defense is solid. They'll be good this year, but I think they'll just miss out on the playoffs.
3. Houston Texans (9-7)
This team has a good chance to make the playoffs, but the loss of running back Ben Tate really hurts them. Now they are forced to have Steve Slaton getting wrecked everytime he runs up the middle. Matt Schaub is a budding star, and Andre Johnson seems to get better and better. DeMeco Ryans is a certified monster at linebacker (He actually has a certificate), and Brian Cushing could be insane if he was not out for the first four games for injecting drugs that would make him into a monster. The Texans are always the team that seems on the verge of the playoffs, but never make it. Remember that old ESPN commercial when the Texans were first formed. Some hick said "The Texans will win a Super Bowl in three years." Oh you don't remember that. Damn it. Anyway, the Texans always seem to have a lot of optimism going into the season, and always fall short. Just as they will this season.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars (5-11)
The forgotten team in the AFC South, and for good reason. Without Maurice Jones-Drew, do you think the Jaguars would ever be mentioned in anything ever? They play in a division with three high-profile teams, and are thrown to the bottom of the barrel. David Garrard (Who plays quarterback, by the way), is years past his prime, whatever that was. This team will compete in some games, but at the end of the day, they will remember that they are the Jaguars.
1. San Diego Chargers (11-5)
It pains me to say that the Chargers are this good, it really does. For years they have thrived on playing in the worst division in football, and then losing to the Steelers in the 1st Round of the playoffs. This year, however, the look a lot different, as the face of their franchise is now gone (LT will now waste carries in New York). My friend Alec, who somehow is a Chargers fan, will explain in great detail and vocabulary how the Chargers will do this year:
"Slightly better than last year cause we got rid of tomlinson who sucks (expletive), my boy gates is health, the defense can only get better...and we dont have vjax which hurts us but not much cause malcolm floyd and naanee are big as hell...its good we lost cromartie cause all he does is draw flags"
This was sent over a text. Just clearing that up so you don't think Alec has some kind of mental disability. But he's right. The Jackson holdout will kill them, but unlike Alec I am not sure about the rest of the receivers. I do think that rookie running back Ryan Mathews will be worth the Chargers draft pick. What I find weird about the Chargers running attack is the situation where Darren Sproles is the 3rd Down back. Am I the only person on this planet who finds that incredibly dumb? He weighs about 155 pounds, and on 3rd down, it is usual about picking up hard yardage, where you have to knock over defenders and fight through. Sproles will get destroyed trying to take on a defensive line on 3rd & 2. Just saying.
2. Kansas City Chiefs (10-6)
Surprise number 2! This team is prime for a breakout season. I feel like the addition of Weis and Crennel as coordinators can only help, as those guys are much better suited for coordinators rather than crappy head coaches. They have the best running attack in football with Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones, and you have like Matt Cassel will have a better season this year. The defense has a lot of problems, and the Chiefs will probably find themselves in an absurd amount of shootouts this season. Look for kick returners Javier Arenas and Dexter McCluster to really have an impact on games this season. I have to expect this pick will draw the most amount of hate mail directed toward me, so bring it on! Although the Chiefs bandwagon is getting bigger by the day, so maybe bring it off.
3. Oakland Raiders (7-9)
Any team that loses JaMarcus Russel (Level 0 Athlete) is bound to improve. After a 5 win 2009 and stealing wins from a couple high caliber teams, the Raiders should not be atrocious. But not if Al Davis has anything to say about it! I want to say the Raiders will be semi-decent this season, and adding Jason Campbell as their QB really helps. But as long as Al Davis is in charge, I just feel like that franchise is always doomed.
4. Denver Broncos (5-11)
This team has a chance to be really bad this season, as they have no offensive weapons. You kind of have to feel as if their 1st round draft choice could have been better used on somebody other than Tim Tebow. They have one of the tougher schedules in the NFL, and the team just seems like it is filled with players who are either too old or too young to have an impact. Long year in Denver.
There are the standings, as I feel will happen. And they will happen. Now on to the playoffs: (Complete with homer edition and non-homer edition!)
Steelers vs. Chargers
Dolphins vs. Jets
Steelers vs. Colts
Jets vs. Ravens
Ravens vs. Colts
Colts back in the Super Bowl. Real risky by me.
Chargers vs. Steelers
Dolphins vs. Jets
Steelers vs. Colts
Jets vs. Ravens
Steelers vs. Ravens
The fan in me wants the Steelers to go to the Super Bowl, but the analysis and pure numbers point to the Colts going back. Come back Thursday as we go over the Byong Sun of professional football, the NFC.