Today we continue on our soap operatic journey of NFL assumption and prognosis – like sands through the hour-glass if you will…
The AFC West: Anybody who has had the chance to catch Denver pre-season games is now fully aware that the arrival of one Peyton Manning has, for now, allowed Broncos Fans to forget about the departure of one Tim “The Non-Toolman” Tebow who is now hocking his brand of Binford Aw-Shucks in The Big Apple. Manning for his part, while he may be one solid hit away from the commentary booth – or worse - continues to disprove the doubters with his timing, velocity and release and completely rediscovered lack of foot speed. Nowhere is the pressure of this season more highly felt than on the O-Line where the mandate is simple – Protect The Neck…and get that old war-horse McGahee a couple of yards if you can.
In San Diego, with Vincent Jackson coast-hopping and Ryan Matthews dinged up yet again, there seems to be the same general malaise haze hanging over SoCal that reminds Charger Fans that Dan Fouts is still, for the 26th straight year, not returning to lead the franchise. Oh well, surf’s up and at least you’re not the Raiders. Oakland begins this season without the Highlander Al Davis patrolling the sidelines… but it is a franchise that, like the Yankees may benefit from its head finally being taken. Keep an eye out for whenever QB Terrelle Pryor gets the call – he has Vickian foot speed. And then there’s Kansas City. They have a great stadium and awesome Fans. They are going to need them because even with RBs Jamaal Charles and Peyton Hillis and WR Dwayne Bowe they have been dreadful in pre-season and I would still trade free Chiefs tickets for good BBQ.
The AFC South: There is a strong possibility that “this could be the year for the Houston Texans.” Of course, there is also the possibility that those beloved bearers of bacon (that’s “pigs” for those of you scoring at home) will take flight while the state of Texas votes for stricter gun control! This has to be a defining year for QB Matt Schaub who has Fantasy Football’s consensus #1 RB in Arian Foster and perennial Pro-Bowler WR Andre Johnson as weapons to go with a defense that even without stalwart DE Mario Williams is highly under-rated. Being the only house in the division not doing some form of rebuilding has to account for something and just making it to the post-season will no longer be enough to pacify a rabid Fan Base who has had an entire summer of putting up with the Astros.
The Andrew Luck watch has begun in Indianapolis because it has to…replacing a legend is never easy and while every pundit with half a brain (this of course excludes Skip Bayless) feels that he has the skill-set and wherewithal to succeed in the NFL, we have all accepted long ago, that for every Peyton Manning there is a Ryan Leaf. WR Reggie Wayne appears to still have something left and RB Donald Brown has a lot to prove but it is going to be a long year for the Colts. The Jaguars have their own problems with RB Maurice Jones-Drew holding out and new owner Shahid Khan rapidly evolving into a cartoon of himself. If QB Blaine Gabbert ever finds the time to throw, keep an eye out for rookie WR Justin Blackmon who is as talented as he is undisciplined…paging Dez Bryant… That just leaves the Titans and new QB Jake “The Hurt” Locker. Expect every opponent to put 9 guys in the box to stop RB Chris Johnson and after that… I suggest Locker sends David Carr a text and asks for the number of his chiropractor.
The AFC North: Somehow, the Pittsburgh Steelers are still being favoured by many to win the Norris Division as they continue to age exponentially right before our eyes. While recent returnee-to-camp WR Mike Wallace and WR Antonio Brown have youth and speed to burn, the defense is another year older and if LB James Harrison is anything to go by, none the wiser. A crew of crash-test dummies are led at RB by Isaac Redman for now and one can only hope that QB Big Ben is somewhat healthier this year having spent an off-season free of court and tabloid time. In the end though… they are the Steelers…finish this sentence however you choose.
The Baltimore Ravens have finally told QB Joe Flacco that he is allowed to throw the ball this year and that may actually help his confidence. With RB Ray Rice in his prime, speedster WR Torrey Smith ready for a break-out season and LB Ray Lewis aging slower than Lestat, this is the kind of team that could keep Head Coaches and Edgar Allan Poe up late into the night. In Cincinnati, off-season jail time was at a surprising low perhaps due to the arrival of RB “The Law Firm” BenJarvis Green-Ellis or maybe Coach Marvin Lewis’ system of discipline is finally kicking in…and there go those pigs again. So to Cleveland where rookie RB Trent Richardson’s surgery would have been far more interesting to watch this year than the Browns who have an only slightly greater chance of winning 5+ games than Nickelback has of making it to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame – as anything but a paying guest.
The AFC East: Despite the arrival of The Chosen One in New York, QB Mark Sanchez remains at the helm of a team whose pre-season has been bad enough to prompt Coach Rex Ryan to leave his feet free of his mouth and not offer up the traditional Super Bowl guarantee. RB Shonn Greene knows this is put up or shut up season but when whiney miscreant WR Santonio Holmes is designated as a team leader, chances are that the locker-room is a tad fragmented. OK Jets Fans, follow along for the quiz later…you hired Tony Sparano as your Offensive Co-ordinator and you wonder why you can’t score TDs…did you watch the Dreaded Dolphins last year? Oh, he invented the NFL “Wildcat” and that’s important for your back-up QB. Aw, shucks.
In Miami, QB Ryan Tannehill has arrived from that vaunted higher learning institution that is Texas A&M and opened his account with the Dolphins by geographically assuming that the Kansas City Chiefs were in the AFC East. Unlike, Miami management and Hard Knocks, as a Fish Fan, I am not looking for “stupid, but cute” as qualities in the future of the franchise. In New England – that’s north of Miami if you’re reading along Ryan – the playoffs are as inevitable as a new Tom Brady hair-do. All that remains to be seen is who Giselle will blame, should they not win it all – my money is on the diminutive RB Danny Woodhead who’s about a foot shorter than she is and only half as nasty. Finally there is Buffalo who with QBs Ryan Fitzpatrick of Harvard and Tarvaris Jackson, have averaged out 2 men of normal intelligence for Fans in Toronto who have already grown tired of this year’s Argos. Well, there’s always the wings…
On that note Kelowna, gotta fly…until next time…