2006 NFL PREVIEW
Philadelphia Eagles 11-5
Before the Terrell Owens debacle the Philadelphia Eagles were a consistent playoff team, with three trips to the NFC Championship Game in a row. Why are they forgotten now? Last year QB Donovan McNabb suffered a sports hernia in the first game and played hurt the rest of the way while the TO cloud eventual engulfed the team and led to a 6-10 season. Well the clouds are gone and the Eagles will go back to the solid team they were before he even got there.
Jeff Fisher-Tennessee Titans
Joe Gibbs-Washington Redskins
Coaches who will be looking for work after the season
Dallas Cowboys 9-7
After competing in the Tour de Training Camp, will Terrell Owens be ready to actually play football? Will Bill Parcells be able to last the entire year without blowing his stack? Oh this team is going to be fun, if TO shuts up and plays and is happy with the Cowboys QBs and Parcells remains calm the Cowboys can go far, but if they cant then the Cowboys can self destruct. TO will be good, Parcells will remain fairly calm, but QB Drew Bledsoe is bad and Tony Romo won't be the answer when he takes over.
New York Giants 10-6*
No team will face a tougher task in September; first it's a primetime match up against QB Eli Manning's big brother Peyton and the Indianapolis Colts, followed by road trips against the last two NFC Champions. The Giants schedule will get easier by the end of the year, so if they can manage to survive they should be able to get back into the playoffs, though they will fall just short of winning the competitive NFC Eastern Division again.
Washington Redskins 3-13
Last year the Redskins used a late season surge to get into the playoffs where they actually managed to win a game. Some expect them to be just as good this year, but the preseason has been a disaster, RB Clinton Portis got injured, and the team played as bad as you can play. Ordinarily one should not put much stock into the preseason, but when a team goes 0-4 and is outscored 104-27 its too bad to be ignore especially with a tough schedule on the horizon, look for the Redskins to fall hard into the NFC East basement.
Detroit Lions 4-12
There's a road between the Tigers Comerica Park, and the Lions Ford Field called Baseline drive, as both teams were the worst in the respective sports a few years ago they started calling it "Basement Drive." Well the Tigers are in first place, the Lions get a nice view of the baseball playoffs as they still roam the wilderness with a clue or a sign of getting out of loserville. Soon Ford Field will be soon be called Edsel Field as the Lions continue to play inept football as GM Matt Millen some how keeps his job.
Minnesota Vikings 6-10
A year after going through rough waters, with the embarrassing Love Boat Incident off the field, the Vikings are not looking much better this year, as they look towards Miami where Daunte Culpepper will be shinning, especially in a Week 11 game when they will face their old QB. Look for the Vikings to fade again as they endure a 6-10 season while finishing a distant second to the Chicago Bears.
Green Bay Packers 5-11
When you can't decide until May weather or not you want to play again chances are it's time to retire, when you throw 29 Interceptions its time to retire, and when there is no hope its time to retire, and following another bad season in Green Bay, this will be the year in which QB Brett Favre does in fact retire, as the Packers defense resembles Swiss Cheese, as Favre looks older with each desperation 50 yard pass. Look for Aaron Rodgers to actually get a few starts near the end of the season as the Packers go 5-11.
Chicago Bears 11-5
The Bears managed to rise to the top of the putrid NFC North last season despite an offense that was one of the worst in the NFL. The Bears may be even better this year, as the NFC North is not and they should be able to easily keep their division title, as their offense should be improved a little with the addition of QB Brian Griese, while the two headed RB combo of Thomas Jones and Cedric Benson will pace the running game as the Bears with LB Brian Urlacher will be a throwback to the days of Halas.
Atlanta Falcons 6-10
In the next edition of unabridged Merriam Webster's Dictionary: Overrateed Something (Whether it is a movie, band, song, or an athlete) that gets more credit and fame than it necessary. See Michael Vick. Look for more disappointment for the Falcons as fans begin to clamor for back up Matt Schaub to be given a chance to play, as the Falcons quickly fade out of the playoff race again.
Carolina Panthers 12-4
In the NFC nothing could be finer then to be in Carolina this year as they Panthers are loaded and ready for a run to the Super Bowl. Last year they fell just one game short as they went to Seattle without a RB. Health can still be a question mark for the Panthers, but with RB DeAngelo Williams the steal of the draft they actually now have a decent back up for DeShaun Foster, while the addition of WR Keyshwan Johnson gives them one of the best 1-2 WR combos.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 10-6*
How can Chris Simms do now that he is the starting QB? The better that answer is the better the Buccaneers will be, fortunately he has the tools to be good as RB Cadillac Williams should be even better in year two, while the Bucs defense remains one of the best in the NFL. However, with the Panthers in their division the road to the playoffs will be a tough one. Look for them to nab a wild card spot but to make a quick exit in the playoffs.
New Orleans Saints 5-11
Coming off a year of hardship following Hurricane Katrina, the Saints now have a RB to build the future around in Reggie Bush, although weather or not that future is in New Orleans still remains to be seen. The bad news for the Saints comes at the schedule as even if Reggie Bush is everything the expect him to be it will be hard for the Saints to do well when they are facing the Panthers, Buccaneers, and Falcons twice, and the teams from the rough NFC East and AFC North once. They should at least be competitive, but in the end the better teams will win.
Arizona Cardinals 9-7
A new stadium and a new Quarterback, have the Cardinals looking solid for the future, add in Edgerrin James and that future could come allot faster. Look for the Cardinals to actually be competitive for a change but to fall just short as by the end of the year the Matt Leinart era will be ready to begin, and the Cardinals years of losing could be coming to an end.
Seattle Seahawks 11-5
Coming off a trip to the Super Bowl the Seahawks will be hard press to go back this year, as life is always tougher when you reach the top. However unlike previous Super Bowl losers the Seahawks are in the NFC West and are do not have much competition for the top spot in the division. Look for them to tear through the NFC West again, as they make it back to the NFC Championship Game, but this time in Carolina they will fall just short and lose.
St. Louis Rams 6-10
The greatest show on turf is over. Gone is Mike Martz, and with a new offensive philosophy is the end of the road for Marshall Faulk who won't play due to injuries this year, and likely won't play again at all ever again. Also likely to be on his way out soon are longtime Rams Isaac Bruce, and Torry Holt who will likely be in a season long audition for their jobs, and future, as new Coach Scott Linehan will be assessing the team all year as the Rams losing 10 games.
San Francisco 49ers 5-11
Last year Alex Smith struggled badly in his rookie season with the 49ers throwing just 1 TD pass against 11 Interceptions. Don't look for them to be a whole lot better any time soon, as the front office is about the worst in the NFL. However behind the scenes Eddie DeBarolo is trying to get back in the league and if he is successful at getting the 49ers back from his sister and husband John York, the 49ers season will be a bigger success then anyone can imagine as the key to getting this team better will be the end of the York era.
New York Jets 6-10
After last year's disaster almost anything has to be better, and perhaps it will be once they realize QB Chad Pennington is not the answer. His arm strength was questionable before two arm injuries, now it's just a liability, and the Jets will miss Curtis Martin allot, as Kevan Barlow is terrible. So where's the hope the hope is they are not the Buffalo Bills and that with Eric Mangini as their head coach a plan is in place, and maybe this is the plan that will actually work.
New England Patriots 10-6
Adam Vinateiri is the best big game kicker ever, when a game was close all Tom Brady had to do was get it in range and the game would be tied or won. Kickers may be a dime a dozen, but clutch is clutch, and the Pats will miss the part of their game more then they think. In addition the loss of Willie McGinnest and the questionable health of Teddy Bruschi will not be answered by Junior Seau who should have stayed retired, and this is all not even considering when or if they will get Deion Branch back.
Buffalo Bills 3-13
You know your team is in trouble when your General Manager is 80 years old. You know tour team is in trouble when you have your 3rd coach in 4 years. You know your team is in trouble when you bring back a WR Pierless Price who was a free agent bust in Atlanta to be the top target of a QB J.P. Losman that is a megabust. You know your team is in trouble when you wax poetically on 4 straight Super Bowl Losses, and know that there won't be anymore in the foreseeable future, and that the season is as bleak as the winter is cold.
Miami Dolphins 11-5
Just two year ago this team was adrift left in the lurch by a Ricky Williams who went on a 1-year retreat to smoke marijuana. Now Williams is gone again, but things are different in his absence the Dolphins have Ronnie Brown who will have a break out year and QB Daunte Culpepper who just 2 years ago led the NFL in passing yards, before a year of injury and frustration last year. Culpepper may get off to a slow start but by the end of the season the Dolphins will be the team nobody wants to face in the playoffs.
Pittsburgh Steelers 8-8
The Steelers will miss Jerome Bettis a whole lot more then anyone could have imagined. They will also miss free agents Antwaan Randle-El and Kimo Von Oehoffen, as they will learn quickly that life on top is the hardest spot in the NFL. Look for Ben Roethlisberger to struggle, while the Steelers fall short of the playoffs as the talk of Bill Cowher leaving becomes a bigger distraction as the year goes on, as a tough schedule will quickly do them into a disappointing 8-8 season.
Cincinnati Bengals 11-5
Perhaps no preseason game was more important than Week 3 when the Bengals shredded the Green Bay Packers. In that game QB Carson Palmer looked in midseason form and showed no effect of his knee injury from the playoff last year. The Bengals could be on the verge of a big step if Palmer takes that into the postseason as RB Rudi Johnson, and WR Chard Johnson continue to develop into stellar players, while WR TJ Whosyour mama Housmazzilli, is Housmadeoza Housmedozah could mean Championship.
Baltimore Ravens 10-6*
Last year the Ravens were like Bill Gates in high school they could never score. Just 2 games of 16 did they manage to score over 20 points as their overworked defense eventually broke down with injuries. Meanwhile in Tennessee QB Steve McNair was battered and bruised again, now the two have come together and will both provide each other the answer to a year of resurgence. Don't be surprised if the Ravens make another run at a championship as LB Ray Lewis will be a monster in the playoffs.
Cleveland Browns 7-9
They have a second year QB Charlie Frye that maybe is a year away, a defense that's starting to take shape but despite the addition of Willie McGinnest is a year. They have a TE in Kellen Winslow II, that in 2 years has played 5 quarters, and to regain his NCAA form will need at least a year of staying injury free. While they play in a division that won't have any patience or sympathy for someone who will be good next year as they will finish in last again, but with man positives signs that point to good things next year.
Indianapolis Colts 12-4
In 1996 a horse of another color had a great regular season was the best team in the AFC and fell on their face in the playoffs, in 1997 those Broncos came back and won the Super Bowl after everyone counted them out. Now they are counting out the Colts after their epic failure in the playoffs last year. They lost Edgerrin James to boot, but they didn't lose Peyton Manning and last year will be a lesson learned, and this year though their regular season may not be impressive will finally see the Colts reach the Promised Land.
Jacksonville Jaguars 9-7
The defense is good, but the offense is mediocre, all time WR Jimmy Smith has retired RB Fred Taylor always seems to break down, and QB Byron Leftwich is showing signs of being injury prone as well. Perhaps if they were in the NFC they could make a strong playoff run but in the AFC with their schedule that's not going to happen, look for the Jaguars to be in many close games, but most of them will see them fall short as they are unable to make a return trip to the playoffs.
Houston Texans 5-11
After last year's 2-14 disaster there is no place to go but up. However, Texans fans will rue all season that they did not draft Reggie Bush as the Texans once again look like an expansion team, and continue to be stuck in the mud, with no real signs of improving any time soon. Look for the Texans to sneak out of the cellar, as they will be slightly better then the rebuilding Titans this year. Maybe that will be something for fans in Houston to cheer as QB David Carr continues to get run over.
Tennessee Titans 4-12
Steve McNair the only QB Titans fans have known since the arrival in Nashville is gone, Billy Volek the back up who once showed promise is now an after thought as 3rd overall pick Vince Young is clearly he QB of the future, while Kerry Collins was brought in to compete with Volek as the QB for now, none of it will matter much as by December it will be Young and the Titans will be looking towards the future as they finish at the bottom of the AFC South.
San Diego Chargers 10-6*
The question marks on the Chargers center on QB Phillip Rivers who will be replacing departed free agent Drew Brees. However, with RB LaDainian Tomlinson he won't have to work that hard to answer them as the superstar RB is due for his big year, while TE Antonio Gates gives the first year starter a consistent target. Look for the Chargers to be relived by an easier schedule this year as they get back in to the playoffs as a Wild Card.
Kansas City Chiefs 7-9
The retirement of LT Willie Roaf, and the departure of Offensive Coordinator Al Saunders will combine to make life miserable for the Chiefs and new Coach Herm Edwards. With the Chiefs depending on offense to win the last few years, and that same offense looking shaky in the preseason it could be a long season in Kansas City as Larry Johnson struggles to equal last year's numbers without the Chiefs key blocker on the offensive line.
Oakland Raiders 5-11
Memories of a golden age in the past are all the Raiders and Owner Al Davis has, as the current Raiders are simply bad and unwatchable with no glimmer of hope for the future. So you go to the past by hiring Art Shell to be the head coach again 12 years after he was fired. However, with no defense as Warren Sapp's best days are also a memory, while their dose not to be anybody on the roster with the ability to get the ball to Randy Moss, who seems to be aging by the second by the bay.
Denver Broncos 11-5
Last year a great season ended with disappointment in the AFC Championship Game, this year it will be hard for the Broncos to reach that stage again, as the conference continues to get stronger around them. However, the AFC West is not getting stronger in fact all the teams behind them have more question marks then just about anybody in the entire NFL. Look for the Broncos to ride to the Division Title again, but in the playoffs it will be disappointment again for Jake Plummer.
Coach of the Year
Defensive Rookie of the Year
Offensive Rookie of the Year
Defensive Player of the Year
Offensive Player of the Year
Green Bay Packers
New Orleans Saints
San Diego Chargers
Predictions Made: September 4, 2006