2010 NFL Preview
Dallas Cowboys 12-4
With Super Bowl XLV in Dallas, there is a sense that this season in Super Bowl or bust for the Cowboys. With good reason, as Tony Romo finally won a playoff game and the Cowboys have on paper one of the best teams on paper. Of course paper does not bring championships, and the Cowboys have a load of problems, mostly surrounding their head coach Wade Phillips. With a better coach the Cowboys would certainly have a better shot at reaching their Super Bowl goal. The only question will be do they have enough talent to overcome the short comings of Phillips. Certainly in the regular season it will not be an issue, as the Cowboys will be among the best teams in the NFC and will win their division, but the true test will come in the postseason.
Washington Redskins 10-6
The arrival of Coach Mike Shanahan gives the Redskins the leader they have been lacking for years, whether or not he can keep Owner Daniel Snyder from meddling will be the ultimate test, as Shanny can make the Redskins a legitimate Super Bowl contenders in a season or two. This year it will be about getting into the playoffs, and newly acquired Donovan McNabb gives them a good chance to do that. However, a tough schedule and some lingering bad contracts like Albert Haynesworth will add to the Redskins obstacles of reaching their goal.
New York Giants 9-7
When the Giants stunned the world and won Super Bowl XLII they entered the season with many experts forecasting doom, as Coach Tom Coughlin appeared to be a dead man walking. Coming off a disappointing 8-8 season, doubt again surrounds the Giants and Coach Coughlin as they begin play in a new stadium. Instead of doubt around their offense, the doubt surrounds their defense, as they are entering the season with a new Defensive Coordinator in Perry Fewell, their third defensive leader in as many seasons. With retirement, age and injuries the big question will be can the Giants regain the level they had just two years ago under Steve Spagnuolo, with players like Justin Tuck it will be tough to bet against them, but a tough schedule could keep the Giants out of the playoffs for a second straight season.
Philadelphia Eagles 5-11
Kevin Kolb may have the toughest job in the NFL as he has to replace one of the most successful quarterbacks in the history of the Philadelphia Eagles, with an inpatient fan base that seems to only fall in love with players when they are gone. If the Eagles struggle early and the Redskins excel with Donovan McNabb, things will only get tougher for Kolb and the Eagles. The Eagles also lack a big time running game, which a first year starter like Kolb could lean on in times of trouble. With all these negative factors, a tough schedule and a strong division, it will be hard to imagine the Eagles having a successful season.
Minnesota Vikings 10-6
The Vikings came within a whisker of reaching the Super Bowl last season as they lost in overtime to the Saints in the NFC Championship Game. Back again for one last one is QB Brett Favre whose body and health could be a question mark, but the same can be said for any 41 year old. The true success for the Vikings surrounds their defense, which is still one of the best in the NFL. The health of their receiving core as the season starts is a concern, but as long as they have a healthy Adrian Peterson the Vikings offense should be in good shape. That is if A.P. can avoid his continued problems fumbling the ball.
Green Bay Packers 11-5*
The continued development of Quarterback Aaron Rogers, has allowed the Packers to forget about one Mr. Favre. Add to the mix a solid RB in Ryan Griggs, and a solid young defense, and its easy to see why the future is bright in Green Bay. The only bump in the road between them and Dallas is thier former Quarterback, Brett Favre, whom they were unable to beat in two tries last season. I expect much of the same problems this year for the Packers, as the Vikings have a deeper team. However, if the Vikings slip just a little the door could open for Mr. Rogers as the Packers should be among the best teams in NFC again.
Chicago Bears 7-9
Under Pressure is the theme song for the 2010 Chicago Bears, as no team has a hotter seat than the one Coach Lovie Smith and Quarterback Jay Cutler sit upon. Acquired by the Bears last season, Cutler was a massive disappointment with 26 interceptions last season. To help guide Cutler, the Bears have added Mike Martz, whom was the offensive genius behind “The Greatest Show on Turf” that carried the Rams to two Super Bowl appearances. They have also added an all-pro Pass Rusher in Julius Peppers to improve their defense, as they expect a full season from Brian Urlacher to help the Bears defense regain their bite. However, with two other tough teams in the NFC North, and Cutler’s habit of folding under pressure could spell bad news and a house cleaning for the Bears.
Detroit Lions 5-11
Look at the bright side Detroit, the Lions are improving, it may seem slow it may seem that their day will never arrive, but there is hope on the horizon. After going 0-16 in 2008 the Lions knew it would be a long road back before they could get in the playoff picture, but with a tough solid Quarterback in Matthew Stafford and a blue chip pass rusher in Ndamukong Suh the future in Detroit is a bright one, and it’s one that could only be a year or two away, as the Lions should begin to show signs of life, as they will no longer be a pushover, as they actually win enough games to use up all the fingers on one hand.
New Orleans Saints 11-5
Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown, and for the Saints those words could not be true, as Mardi Gras still has not ended in New Orleans this season after the Saints won the Super Bowl last February. With Drew Brees still leading the way the Saints should again be a viable playoff contender, but can their defense equal their play of last season. One secret to the Saints success last season was their ability to get the big turnover. However, turnovers are a fickle thing, a bounce of the ball that went one way last year could go the other way this season, and it is always difficult to repeat. The Saints should make the playoffs, but to expect another Lombardi Gras Celebration will be too much to ask for the City of New Orleans.
Atlanta Falcons 10-6*
In the days when the Saints and Falcons were awful and fighting for last place in the NFC West, they had one of the most underrated rivalries in the NFL. Staying together in the NFC South the rivalry has only gotten better, as the Saints are coming off a Super Bowl and the Falcons have one of the best young quarterbacks in the NFL in Matt Ryan. Look for a strong bounce back season for Ryan, who begins his third year in the NFL, the biggest question remains the Falcons defense, and if Ryan is able to avoid last year’s injury problems, any defensive struggles could be overcome as the Falcons have a well rounded offense that should be able to put plenty of points of the board.
Carolina Panthers 6-10
This is a year of transition for the Panthers, who are entering play with a new quarterback after the exit of Jake Delhomme, while they are also playing without their top defensive stalwart Julius Peppers who was signed by the Chicago Bears. Matt Moore is not the type of quarterback a championship makes, the future could be Jimmy Claussen, whom the Panthers selected in the second round of the draft, but for a rookie with many questions it will be hard to imagine the Panthers being a playoff team this season.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 5-11
After an awful three win season, there is no place to go but up for the Buccaneers, who enter year two under Coach Raheem Morris, and Quarterback Josh Freeman. The Buccaneers do have a long road to go before they can become a contender again, but with a solid draft headed by Gerald McCoy should make the Bucs much better teams as they appear to be using the same blue print that built their title team, with fast defensive players that can attack the opposing quarterback.
San Francisco 49ers 10-6
Once labeled a bust, Quarterback Alex Smith made big strides last season after regaining the starting job in San Francisco. With the Cardinals slipping and the Seahawks starting from scratch, the path to the division title is clear for the 49ers. The formula remains simple, allow RB Frank Gore to carry the offense, while Patrick Willis with the leadership of Coach Mike Singletarry continues to guide the 49ers solid young defense. What will also help the 49ers is back up QB David Carr, who will be a good go to quarterback is Smith falters.
Seattle Seahawks 6-10
Coach Pete Carroll is hoping third time is a charm, as he begins his third NFL head coaching job, after a successful tenure on campus, leading USC to a pair of National Championships. Of course the Seahawks will likely look a lot different by the time they are ready to make a serious run again, as QB Matt Hasselbeck is likely on his way out the door, especially after struggling the last two seasons. Expect changes to occur throughout the year as Pete Carroll tries to remake the Seahawks in the image of the USC teams that dominated the Pac-10.
Arizona Cardinals 5-11
The Matt Leinart era is over before it ever began, as the Cardinals have released their former number one pick, who was given the starting quarterback job when Kurt Warner announced his retirement during the off-season. Sadly for the Cardinals Derek Anderson is not going to be the answer either. This means star WR Larry Fitzgerald will be going to waste, as the Cardinals will be spending the entire season looking for a new quarterback. In the meantime this will be a largely wasted year for the back to back NFC West Champions.
St. Louis Rams 3-13
Sam Bradford, the number one overall pick will be thrown into the fire right away, as the Rams who have won a total of six games in their last three seasons, hope to rebound off a 1-15 season. The Rams do have some good defensive pieces in Chris Long and James Laurinaitis, but this team is such a mess with their ownership finally getting settled after two seasons. However, when you go 1-15 the road to becoming competitive is a long one and a rookie QB who spent most of last season on the bench with an injured shoulder will have plenty of growing pains.
Miami Dolphins 11-5
Two years ago the Dolphins stunned the world by going from 1-15 to division champions by using the Wild Cat offense. The Wild Cat no longer catches anyone by surprise, but the Dolphins are a much stronger team. They have one of the best lines in the NFL, a solid young Quarterback who should be able to improve with the addition of WR Brandon Marshall. If they can keep their running attack of Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams healthy they could even make a Super Bowl run. Look for them to make big strides this season as they capture the division title.
New England Patriots 10-6
The window could be closing on the Patriots, as the team that nearly went unbeaten three years ago is starting to show its age. One side effect with age is injury and the Patriots have already been bitten by the injury during the preseason, losing Leigh Bodden and Ty Warren two of their key pieces on an already shaky defense. Tom Brady should again have a strong season, but with even Randy Moss looking like he lost a step and the AFC being full of strong teams the Pats could be left outside the playoffs when January arrives.
New York Jets 7-9
There is a curse in Jets history in which every time they are hyped for a big season, they suffer a major letdown. With a new stadium, a reality television show and coming off a trip to the AFC Championship Game the hype has never been bigger for the Jets as their coach Rex Ryan has all but guaranteed a Super Bowl Championship. You can see the let down coming a mile away. The Jets did go to the AFC Championship Game, but they also went 9-7 and won two games against teams who were not trying at season’s end. Their QB Mark Sanchez can also be a liability coming off knee surgery. Look for Sanchez to struggle as Jets fans have their bubble burst early and often with the familiar refrain of “Same Ol Jets”.
Buffalo Bills 3-13
Two decades ago the Bills began a four year stretch of heaven and hell as they reached the Super Bowl in four straight seasons, without winning once. The Bills finished the 90’s with a heartbreaking loss in the Music City Miracle they have not been back to the playoffs since. With the hiring of Coach Chan Gailey and a largely anonymous roster the Bills don’t appear to be playoff ready any time soon, Rookie RB C.J. Spiller may be the only bright spot for what could be a historically awful Bills team, but how far can they go on the back of an undersized back who was injury prone at Clemson.
Baltimore Ravens 13-3
Once upon a time the Ravens won on defense alone, Ray Lewis and Ed Reed are still key cogs to their defense though neither is the player they used to be the Ravens no longer need their defense which is a strong defense to carry the day becuase they now have a great offense to lead the way. Ray Rice is on the verge of becoming a superstar, while Joe Flacco has already proven to be a steady young quarterback. Helping Flacco this year will be an improved receiver core led by Anquan Bolin, Donte Stallworth and T. J. Houshmandzadeh.
Cincinnati Bengals 10-6*
The fate of the Cincinnati Bengals rests in the hands of Quarterback Carson Palmer, who struggled at times last season despite the Bengals having a terrific season that saw them land in the playoffs. Of course no team has more potential headaches on their roster with Terrell Owens, Chad Ochocinco and Pac Man Jones, all three can at their highest level be among the best players in their positions in the NFL meaning if all goes right the Bengals could go far, but at the same time it could implode and literal cause Coach Marvin Lewis to stroke out, but whether it be on Cops, ESPN, or VH-1, the Bengals should be entertaining.
Pittsburgh Steelers 8-8
Ben Roethlisberger has had his suspension reduced to four games, but it will still be costly for the Steelers as their entire offense has now been built around their unstable quarterback. The four games, Roethlisberger will miss could put the Steelers in a hole it will take all season to climb out of as they don’t have a reliable running back to carry the ball and once he does return it will be a tough task for Roethlisberger to get into the groove he was last season.
Cleveland Browns 5-11
The Brady Quinn era is over in Cleveland and the Browns are still one giant mess. With two new quarterbacks in Jake Delhomme and Seneca Wallace things don’t look to promising for the Browns or Coach Eric Mangini who will surely be feeling the heat from Mike Holmgren. Add to the fact there are three solid playoff contenders in the division and its easy to see that the Browns will once again be spending a season hanging with the rats in the basement.
Indianapolis Colts 12-4
The Colts one weakness is the lack of a running game, a weakness that could derail most teams, but when you have Peyton Manning you don’t need a running game. Expect the Colts to again be at the front of the pack in the AFC as Manning puts up MVP numbers again, turning any receiver on their roster into an All-Pro. One concern however, will be the Colts defense and whether it can stay healthy. If the answer is yes the Colts could be playing in the Super Bowl again.
Houston Texans 11-5*
One of these years the Texans are going to make good on their promising roster led by Andre Johnson the best receiver in the NFL. This is that year, the Texans will finally get a taste of playoff football as they are simply too good to continue to fall short Matt Schaub is a solid QB, and they have a decent RB in Steve Slaton. Add to the fact the Texans have one of the best young defenses in the NFL and it is almost stunning this team has not played in the postseason yet. If they fall short again expect new coaches in Houston, as Gary Kubiak could be the only thing that stands in the way.
Tennessee Titans 10-6
Last season the Titans nearly did the impossible by making the playoffs after a 0-6 start. In winning eight of their last ten games, the Titans saw QB Vince Young regain the starting job and become the leader they have been looking for. Helping Young and the Titans turnaround was RB Chris Johnson who collected 2,509 yards from scrimmage. Expecting him to equal those numbers will be near impossible, but the Titans should again challenge for a playoff spot, even though they are in perhaps the toughest division in the NFL.
Jacksonville Jaguars 6-10
With rumors of a possible move to Los Angeles and a renewed push for ticket sales, it appears as though the Jaguars have solved their issue with blackouts. However, even with a solid RB in Maurice Jones-Drew it appears the Jags have a long hill to climb to reach the playoffs especially in the AFC South. Add to the fact they have one of the toughest schedules in the NFL and it will be easy to see why it’s going to be a long year in Jacksonville.
San Diego Chargers 8-8
With the loss of players like Antonio “Father’s Day” Cromartie, LaDaninian Tomlinson and the holdout of Vincent Jackson the Chargers will have a tough time equaling their 13 wins from last season. Of course playing the awful AFC West will help as it won’t take more than nine wins to capture what is easily the worst division in the NFL and may be one of the worst divisions in the history of the NFL. They will get into the playoffs but their exit will be a quick and harsh one again.
Oakland Raiders 6-10
The Raiders are a team that has been through some hard times in recent years, as Owner Al Davis who was once one of the most innovative men in professional football seems to be stuck in the 70’s, which has held back the Raiders. Their coach Tom Cable may be the worst in the entire NFL. Yet there may be reason for hope, QB Jason Campbell certainly cannot be worse than JaMarcus Russell and they have some solid pieces on defense. However, it is just pieces there is not much else there as the Raiders will fall short of the playoffs again.
Kansas City Chiefs 5-11
In year two of Todd Haley and Scott Pioli, you can see things beginning to take shape in Kansas City, who will be playing in a freshly renovated Arrowhead Stadium this year. However, just as it did to fix up old Arrowhead, there is still work to do before the Chiefs can contend for the playoffs again. Matt Cassel still needs to prove he can be a starting quarterback in the NFL; they need to also find a proven running back. The Chiefs did have a solid draft last season and should be able to begin putting together a fine foundation, but it will be a year or two before it brings any rewards.
Denver Broncos 2-14
No team in the NFL is a greater mess than the Denver Broncos, who have gone from one of the steadiest franchises in the NFL into a disaster in just two seasons under the guidance of Josh McDaniel. Kyle Orton maybe one of the worst quarterbacks on any roster, and Tim Tebow is not ready to start any time soon, their running game has been decimated by injury, their line is terrible, they traded their best receiver, they had an awful draft, their best defense is on IR. Playing in the AFC West is the only thing that may save the Broncos from a 1-15 or 0-16 season, as they play a weaker schedule.
- Coach of the Year
- Comeback Player of the Year
- Defensive Rookie of the Year
- Offensive Rookie of the Year
- Defensive Player of the Year
- Offensive Player of the Year
- NFL MVP
- John Harbaugh
- Michael Turner
- Ndamukong Suh
- Ryan Matthews
- Patrick Willis
- Ray Rice
- Peyton Manning
- Baltimore Ravens
- Atlanta Falcons
- Detroit Lions
- San Diego Chargers
- San Francisco 49ers
- Baltimore Ravens
- Indianapolis Colts
- Coach of the YearJohn Harbaugh
- Comeback Player of the YearMichael Turner
- Defensive Rookie of the YearNdamukong Suh
- Offensive Rookie of the YearRyan Matthews
- Defensive Player of the YearPatrick Willis
- Offensive Player of the YearRay Rice
- NFL MVPPeyton Manning
- Baltimore RavensJohn Harbaugh
- Atlanta FalconsMichael Turner
- Detroit LionsNdamukong Suh
- San Diego ChargersRyan Matthews
- San Francisco 49ersPatrick Willis
- Baltimore RavensRay Rice
- Indianapolis ColtsPeyton Manning
FIRING SQAUDCoaches who will be looking for work after the season
- Tom Cable-Oakland Raiders
- Jack Del Rio-Jacksonville Jaguars
- John Fox-Carolina Panthers
- Chan Gailey-Buffalo Bills
- Eric Mangini-Cleveland Browns
- Josh McDaniels-Denver Broncos
- Wade Phillips-Dallas Cowboys
- Andy Reid-Philadelphia Eagles
- Lovie Smith-Chicago Bears