By Chauncey Telese
For all 10 people that read my movie reviews, you are aware that aside from being a colossal movie nerd, my dorkiness applies to sports as well. Whether they are apt or not, I inexplicably try to weave in as many sports references as I can. Since there are no compelling movies to review until next week I figured I’d take a vacation from reviewing movies and give you an NFL preview column.
On Sept. 9, the season kicks off with the defending champion Nawlin Saints and the Minnesota Vikings (who have some 40-year-old guy named Brett at quarterback). I am super excited for this season (and a little scared, considering there is a lockout looming), so I will not only give you a preview of all 32 NFL teams but I will forecast the playoffs, provide fantasy tips, and tell you which coaches will be fired. Let’s start with the AFC.
New York Jets (projected record 11-5): The most entertaining team in the league by far. Their bravado has inspired the greatest season of “Hard Knocks” and inspired my fantasy team this year (I’m calling it Cromartie’s Kids because for those who missed it, CB Antonio Cromartie has eight kids in five states and had trouble naming all of them). Football-wise they brought in a ton of new faces such as Santonio Holmes, (he’s old but can maybe help take the pressure off Shonn Greene), Jason Taylor, Cromartie, and first round pick Kyle Wilson who will be great in the absence of all star CB Darrell Revis. If Revis does insist on holding out all year (he wants to be the highest paid CB in the league and I somewhat agree with that), they will have problems and could end up at 9-7 like last year (then again they did go to the AFC title game at 9-7). Also it is up to the Sanchize to avoid a sophomore slump and become the leader that he is supposed to be. By the way my friend Katie thinks he’s a d— and hopes he fails. My friend Armando just wants to punch Rex Ryan in the face just because of his face (think “Step Brothers”). My dad and my friend’s Aunt Karen though are pulling for the J-E-T-S JETS JETS JETS.
Fantasy players: Santonio Holmes, Jets defense, Mark Sanchez, Shonn Green, maybe Braylon Edwards assuming he gets over the dropsies, and TE Dustin Keller.
Miami Dolphins (projected record 10-6): This is the team I bet on in Vegas not because I think they’ll win the Super Bowl but because everyone is focused on the Jets and the Pats they overlook how loaded the Dolphins are. Bill Parcells has helped build the best under the radar team in the league by adding first round pick Jerrod Odrick to bolster the defensive line, Karlos Dansby at linebacker, and trading for WR Brandon Marshall who assuming he doesn’t fight anyone and buys into Sparano’s system. Second year QB Chad Henne will clearly have a better year and if Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams stay healthy and the wildcat offense continues to work the Dolphins will definitely surprise people. Note I didn’t make any Ricky Williams weed jokes because after seeing his “30 for 30” entitled “Run Ricky Run” which talked about his sudden retirement in 2004 I think he functions better with it and don’t care if he supports the Botwin (now Neumann) family. Does anyone watch “Weeds”? Yes? Okay, good.
Fantasy: Chad Henne, Ronnie Brown, Ricky Williams, Miami’s defense, Anthony Fasano, and Brandon Marshall.
New England Patriots (projected record 10-6): As dangerous as the Pats always are I am no longer afraid of them as I have been since Brady helped rip my heart out in Super Bowl XXVI. Brady is two years removed from that knee surgery and should be back to form. Brady angry could spell trouble for the rest of the league. Depending on how Moss’s skills maintain and how Welker recovers from his own surgery, this offense could compete with anyone. Their running game is still subpar as Maroney (who could be traded because he’s basically Stephen Jackson without the talent), hasn’t shown much promise. Defensively this team won’t be the major force that they’ve been, then again Belichick is still their coach so who knows? I love Jerrod Mayo at linebacker but other then that not a whole lot to love.
Fantasy: Brady, Moss, Welker, TE Aaron Hernandez, and Kicker Stephen Gostkowski.
Buffalo Bills (projected record 2-14): Break out the Pabst Blue Ribbon and Jack Daniels, it’s going to be another long year. QB Trent Edwards is out of chances and when he fails the team will likely draft another PAC 10 QB who probably won’t fare well in cold weather at Jake Locker. The running game is a mess as for some reason they drafted CJ Spiller even though they had bigger needs (Offensive line anyone?) and they already have Marshawn Lynch and Fred Jackson. Then again Lynch is reviled in Buffalo after his hit and run last year so Spiller will be the guy if they have any takers for Lynch. Head Coach Chan Gailey isn’t the guy to turn things around (they should’ve hired Vikings Defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier but that would require forward thinking). The defense is awful and they play in the same division as the Jets, Dolphins, and Pats. Good luck Buffalo.
Fantasy: Um, CJ Spiller? Marshawn Lynch? That’s the closest I’ve got.
Baltimore Ravens (projected record 12-4): The Ravens are a popular pick to go to and in most cases win the Super Bowl. Their offense looks amazing; Flacco has been amazing the last two years and now that they have Anquan Boldin (assuming he stays healthy) he will be a great target for him, and Ray Rice is turning into a Marshall Faulk style back. Defensively they are as good as ever. Ray Lewis can still bring it at linebacker; Haloti Ngata is an absolute beast on the defensive line. In fact, their front seven will kill almost every running game put in their way. Their Achilles heel however is their secondary. If Ed Reed can come back healthy then it won’t be a big deal then again they are thin at corner especially since Dominique Foxworth is out with an ACL injury. They should be okay and their head coach John Harbough is a secondary specialist so who knows? Fantasy: Flacco, Boldin, Rice, Heap, Ravens Defense.
Pittsburgh Steelers (projected record 10-6): I know everyone thinks Pitt will fail and the Bengals will be really good, but not me. I think Pitt will overcome Roethelisberger’s “no means no suspension” for at least four games. Big Ben is leaner and meaner plus Tomlin is more committed to the running game as evident by them getting rid of Fast Willie Parker (more hurt then fast really) and drafting Jonathan Dwyer to compliment Mendenhall. They are without Holmes because they gave him to the Jets but this team always manages to compete. Their defense will carry them even though LaMarr Woodley is unhappy with his contract he’s been a good soldier and showed up to camp. Polamalu is healthy and that is a great sign for Pittsburgh. They will surprise people and assuming that rookie center Maurkice Pouncey is ready to go their line will actually protect Ben. Now let’s hope that they can protect Ben from himself.
Fantasy: Big Ben, Heinz Ward, Rashard Mendenhall, Jonathan Dwyer, their defense, and kicker Jeff Reed.
Cincinnati Bengals (projected record 10-6): This team surprised everyone last year with their patchwork team oriented defense and their better then expected offense. People are on the Bengals bandwagon and Tim Cowlishaw of the Dallas Morning News has them playing the Cowboys in the Super Bowl. Not me. Look, the Bengals were lucky last year and I don’t think they did enough to improve to compete with a rejuvenated Ravens and Steelers team. Cedric Benson has to prove he isn’t a one year wonder at running back, T.O. has to prove he has something more then a bad reality show left in the tank. Ochocinco is good but they don’t have much else at receiver except Antonio Bryant who is old and Jordan Shipley who could either spread the field or just be a slot receiver who is too slow for the NFL (I think he’ll be good, he’s not that fast but is fundamentally sound and those guys are underrated.) Defensively, they’re okay but Odom has to stay healthy as does Keith Rivers and Roy Williams. Carson Palmer is an elite QB but is also injury-prone.
Fantasy: Palmer, Ochocinco, Benson, Jermaine Gresham, and maybe Shayne Graham at kicker.
Cleveland Browns (projected record 4-12): Brown is an apt name for this team because they will definitely play like something that is brown. Even though Mike Holmgren is taking over the front office this team still has a looooong way to go. Eric Mangini has to prove he’s still the “Mangenius” and that will be arduous considering how bad their roster is. Jack Delhomme is their starting QB which is bad considering he nearly lead the league in interceptions. Colt McCoy (who my Rams should’ve drafted) will one day be the guy but will be in learning mode for now. I do like their running game with Peyton Hillis and Jerome Harrison but their receivers leave a lot to be desired. On defense, I like their first round pick in Hayden but not much else. They do have some former Jets in Elam and Coleman. Cleveland fan favorite (at least he inherited when LeBron took his talents to South Beach), Josh Cribbs is their only really offensive weapon which isn’t necessarily a good thing.
Fantasy: Josh Cribbs.
Indianapolis Colts (13-3): Typically the team that loses the Super Bowl doesn’t make the playoffs. The Colts aren’t a typical team. They are androids who are affected by nothing. They have the best quarterback in the league (sorry Brees), in Manning who will be back with a vengeance. The running game is better because Addai and Brown will be healthier, and Collie and Garcon will continue to develop the more Manning gets them the ball. Their defense will be the same as it always is bend but don’t break. I loved that they drafted Hughes at DE as he will be a great compliment to Dwight Freeney. Dallas Clark is still an elite TE and despite the fact that I’ve never seen their coach blink, I trust he knows how to bounce back from a poorly coached Super Bowl. Reggie Wayne will have a lot of double coverage’s to face but he should still find the end zone. Plus, I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this but they have Peyton Manning. My buddy Justin decided to start actually paying attention to football so he needed a team and I had him do it the only logical way I knew. He picked from a hat and drew the Colts. Yes, these are my friends.
Fantasy: Garcon, Manning, Wayne, Clark, Vinatteri, Collie, Addai, and Brown.
Tennessee Titans (projected record 11-5 or 9-7): This team is a huge enigma. I don’t know what to think, last year they started 0-6 and then they put Vince Young in and they finished 9-7 (Chris Johnson had a lot to do with that as he ran faster then Tiki Barber did from fatherhood or Roger Clemens from the truth). I think Vince Young has the physical and mental tools to finally become the evolutionary Steve McNair then again he might take a step back again. He needs to be more consistent though I totally trust him to comeback from a deficit he’s nailed that aspect. Chris Johnson rushed for over 2000 yards last year and boasts that he will break the yards from scrimmage record. He’s touted to be the best fantasy player in the league but I don’t think so. This team has subpar receivers and a decent tight end in Bo Scaife. Then again, Young could just spread the ball around and Johnson could just end up being what Ray Rice will be in Baltimore in terms of catching passes. Defensively they’ve lost a lot over the last two years with Haynesworth Vanden Bosch, and Bullock. It’s up to Fisher to get the defense back to form and if they can then they do challenge to Colts. Otherwise they’re in third place in the south.
Fantasy: Chris Johnson, Vince Young, Bo Scaife, and Rob Bironas.
Houston Texans (projected record 11-5 or 9-7): Like the Titans this team is another enigma. They could either be great or average. They are always picked to make the playoffs but never do. They just don’t have that killer instinct and I don’t see that trend to end. Matt Schaub is a good but not great QB and while they have Andre Johnson at WR they have a bad running game. Their defense is great and Mario Williams will only get better, DeMeco Ryans is an amazing linebacker, Brian Cushing will be good once is steroid suspension is over (he claimed it was from overtraining, I’m serious he claimed it was from overtraining, dude cmon even Roger Clemens thinks that’s ridiculous), they need to replace Dunta Robinson but other then that their defense is solid. Neil Rackers should be able to nail the last second field goals that Kris Brown couldn’t but I still don’t think they can’t finish.
Fantasy: Schaub, Johnson, Rackers, Owen Daniels. Head Coaching Hot Seat: If they don’t get better Gary Kubiak is GONE!
Jacksonville Jaguars (projected record 5-11): This will be a very unpleasant year in Jacksonville as not only did they not get to draft Football Jesus (Tim Tebow), who would’ve given them a boom in ticket sales. Their head coach’s seat is hotter then Eva Mendes and they are probably going to move within the next five years. There is almost nothing to like about this team but they will make it to five wins because they’re defense does have a lot of good pieces plus MJD (Maurice Jones Drew) will have some big plays and they could catch a couple of team by surprise.
Fantasy: Mike Sims-Walker, MJD. Coaching Hot Seat: Jack Del Rio’s out like Mel Gibson’s career.
AFC WEST (awful division)
San Diego Chargers (projected record 10-6 or 7-9): This division is like “Dinner for Schmucks” there are a ton of good people in it but at the end of the day it’s not that great. Well, the cream of this division will once again be the Chargers. They still have Phillip Rivers who still talks way more smack then he should, rookie Ryan Mattews will be a major upgrade over L.T. and they still have Gates. However, this team has their starting LT Marcus McNiel holding out, WR Vincent Jackson holding out, and Shawn Merriman is leaving next year so I could be wrong. They play in a bad division so they could still win. Norv Turner could be fired next year as he’s gotten lucky by coming back from bad starts and the thing about luck is that eventually it runs out. Plus Nate Kaeding is still their kicker and he’s got less confidence then the cast of “Jersey Shore” would on “Jeopardy”.
Fantasy: Rivers, Mattews, Gates, Kaeding (maybe), and if he comes back Jackson. Coaching Hot Seat: Norv Turner is going to be fired if they don’t make the playoffs.
Denver Broncos (projected record 10-6 or 8-8): Again, bad division, and people are already writing off the Broncos but I don’t know they could be good. Orton will have to carry the burden as Knowshon Moreno is hurt as well as most of their running backs. Eddie Royal is there only good receiver though first round pick Demaryious Thomas could prove me wrong, Daniel Graham is a solid TE, and LenDale White has a lot to prove (assuming his heart is in it and he doesn’t gain the weight back) and their defense is old. I think Josh McDaniels knows that he’s on the hot seat and he has to make them better. They started off great last year but then collapsed. Football Jesus is already injured but then again their starting LT Ryan Clady is back practicing and that is a good sign.
Fantasy: Royal, Moreno (if he’s healthy), Thomas, Orton (late rounds though), and Graham.
Kansas City Chiefs (projected record 8-8): A lot of people see them as a sleeper team and to an extent I agree. Matt Cassell is a good QB and Thomas Jones should help out rookie breakout Jamaal Charles avoid a sophomore slump. Dewayne Bowe will have a breakthrough year and the defense should be vastly improved with Eric Berry (I saw him play UCLA two years ago and this kid is the real deal). They still have a ways to go and plus head coach Todd Hayley is a head case. Weiss (recently humbled by his disaster filled tenure at Notre Dame) and Romeo Crennell (ditto in Cleveland) will be great assets to have as coordinators.
Fantasy: Thomas Jones, Charles, Bowe, Cassell.
Oakland Raiders (projected record 7-9): The Raiders won’t make the playoffs until Al Davis finally dies kind of like how my Uncle Craig feels about my Aunt’s pet Cockatiel in that when it dies life will go on but for now he’ll tolerate it, (he’s become the NFL’s Mr. Burns and looked like the crypt keeper during “Straight Outta L.A.”) but they will be better. I love Campbell taking over for the biggest bust since Ryan Leaf, JaMarcus “purple drank” Russell. He will make them more competitive offensively and has Michael Bush and McFadden in the back field plus Zach Miller at TE. Their receivers aren’t great but that’s okay. Their defense will be better; I love Asomugha at CB and love the drafting of Rolando McClain. They still have a long way to go and maybe Tom Cable keeps his job assuming he doesn’t assault any more coaches, then again it’s the Jokeland Raiders so they might keep him IF he assaults another coach.
Fantasy: Bush, McFadden (maybe), Miller, Janikowski.
NFC EAST (the toughest division in football)
Dallas Cowboys (projected record 12-4): After seeing them in camp several times (as I’ve mentioned repeatedly my best friend Wes is a Cowboys zealot, his girlfriend Katie is actually learning football, though in turn he’s learned about hockey and the Ducks), I can honestly say that they look amazing. Katie is hoping Victor Butler ends up starting somewhere because he stuck up for her at camp. Romo seems more poised in the pocket, Barber is still a beast, Witten is still a tremendous threat, Miles Austin looks better (though the team could be jinxed because he’s no longer with Kim Kardashian) and DeMarcus Ware is still the leader of a really stout defense. Their only issues are that the offensive line is old and how can they hold up as the season goes on. Also, their red zone offense looked like it was a work in progress and their defensive backs need to get better at stopping the pass, having said that the Cowboys should be able to put it all together this year and get deep in the playoffs. By the way, Wade Phillips looks great having lost a ton of weight.
Fantasy: Romo, Witten, Barber, Choice, Felix Jones, Martellus Bennet, Miles Austin, Dez Bryant, Cowboys defense.
Washington Redskins (projected record 11-5 or 9-7): This is the enigma of the East as we don’t know how good McNabb is. I like Mike Shanahan as their head coach and feel that he’s gotten Albert Haynesworth to actually buy in to the 3-4 system. Their running game is comprised of old fantasy backs who need to prove they have something left in Willie Parker, Clinton Portis, and Larry Johnson. Santana Moss needs help because he’ll face double teams all year and Chris Cooley needs to bounce back from injury. The defense is kind of old but at least for this year should compete at a high level. However, if they can’t put it all together they could be a major disappointment.
Fantasy: McNabb, Cooley, Moss, Portis, and maybe their defense.
Philadelphia Eagles (projected record 10-6 or 8-8): The Eagles gave McNabb to the Redskins for a sandwich because they believe in Kevin Kolb. They for whatever reason kept Andy Reid (who looks more and more like Chris Farley during the “Super Fan” sketches) even though he has no clock management skills. Kolb has a lot of weapons in DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Brent Celek, and LeSean McCoy. The defense could be good but not great and Ackers (who for some dumb reason my friend Bryan considers the Brett Favre of kickers, whatever that means). Bryan was crestfallen when they cut Westbrook and I think carved “Brooks was here” on his wall (as well he should now he looks stupid wearing his authentic jersey) and is very pessimistic about this season. If Kolb delivers they’ll be good, if not well, Bryan can just focus on the Lakers or just make excuses all year in which case life is going to be fun.
New York Giants (projected record 10-6 or 8-8): Just like the Eagles this team’s success depends on some major questions. Can the defense bounce back after falling apart? Do the receivers develop? How does Eli bounce back from injury? And is there still a running game? I think that Eli (I hate him by the way) will have a good year, Brandon Jacobs could be on his way out, and the defense should be better especially since they brought in Antrell Rolle. They are the most vulnerable of the teams in the East. My friend Mena is a hardcore Giants fan and is convinced that they will go back to the Super Bowl I’m not sure about that but know that I won’t tell him any different because this is the same guy who punched several holes in Katie’s beer pong table. All I know is he and Wes work together and can’t discuss football because they will just end up killing each other (god I love football).
Fantasy: Manning, Jacobs (maybe), Giants defense (maybe), and Kevin Boss.
Green Bay Packers (projected record 12-4): Aaron Rodgers is growing on me. The kid is really good and now that they drafted Bryan Bulaga to protect him, he will have another monster year. Ryan Grant will have a great year out of the backfield and if the defense can replace Aaron Kampman and get better at rushing the passer, they will be a juggernaut. Rodgers doesn’t have great receivers but he is the real deal at QB and Mason Crosby is a great kicker (he won me a lot of games last year). Their defensive backs are good (though Woodson is getting old) and Atari Bigby is coming back from major surgery so they could be the NFC equivalent to Baltimore in terms of the secondary.
Fantasy: Rodgers, Finley, Greg Jennings, Packers Defense, Crosby.
Minnesota Vikings (projected record 11-5 or 9-7): Brett Favre had a career year at the age of 40; however, he had an easy schedule and had some great weapons. This year Percy Harvin is suffering from some major migraine problems, Sidney Rice is out for most of the year with hip surgery (his own fault he got hurt in January had surgery this week), and G Steven Hutchenson is getting older. They still have Adrian Peterson who is just a monster back (as if I needed to tell you) and if Toby Gerhart (rooting for him by the way) can develop into a good two back. Defensively Winfield is hurt, as is Griffin, and they are an older unit. Jared Allen is still in his prime as is Greenway but still this team won’t be who they were last year. Oh, and Favre is on borrowed time I think that with their schedule he could really take a beating (like and he’s already got a bad wheel. Fantasy: Favre, Peterson, Shancoe, Vikings defense, Longwell, and maybe Harvin and maybe Berrian.
Chicago Bears (projected record 7-9): Da Bears are in for another long year, a year where Lovie Smith won’t survive. Jay Cutler is already on thin ice because of his league leading interceptions. Mike Martz (who coordinated my Rams lone Super Bowl victory), has been brought in to salvage him but I don’t see it happening. Matt Forte has to have a bounce back year though that will be tough considering they have an awful line. The defense has gotten older and Urlacher needs to rebound from injury. I don’t know what Julius Peppers and Chester Taylor will bring to the table. The receivers need to actually develop but they do have a good kicker in Robbie Gould.
Fantasy: Cutler (maybe), Forte, Gould, Taylor, and Knox. Coaching Hot Seat: Lovie Smith is on borrowed time. He may last the year and if he does the ice only gets thinner next year.
Detroit Lions (projected record 6-10): The Lions will surprise people; I repeat the Lions will surprise people. They did a fantastic job in the draft the last two years. Stafford looks good and now that he has Javid Best to team with Smith in the back field he will be better. Also, Pettigrew will have a much better year and has the potential to develop into an all-pro tight end, Calvin Johnson will have a slightly better receiving core around him with Nate Burleson and Bryant Johnson. Stafford could use some more help on the offensive line but that’s okay they’ll get a guy next year. The defense will be scrappy, I love the drafting of Suh (the Rams were stupid for not taking him), and they have a lot of quality veterans all over that defense. They need another draft to solidify some of the weaker spots. Jim Schwartz has done an amazing job changing the culture of football in Detroit.
Fantasy: Stafford, Best, Pettigrew, Calvin Johnson, and Jason Hanson.
Atlanta Falcons (projected record 11-5): I like the Falcons just a hair more then I like the Saints. Matt Ryan will bounce back as will Michael Turner. The offense should be a lot better as Hary Douglass will rebound from injury and Mike Jenkins will play better. Roddy White has to play better and Gonzalez has to continue to be productive. Their defense has grown tremendously with the addition of Dunta Robinson and their linebackers have gotten better. Peria Jerry should rebound after being hurt and Sean Weatherspoon will be a defensive record of the year candidate. They still have to prove they can stop New Orleans but I think the Falcons will be a tough team for anyone to beat. Mike Smith is continuing to do wonders in Atlanta, I love what he’s done as a head coach.
Fantasy: Turner, Ryan, Matt Bryant, Mike Jenkins, Roddy White, Tony Gonzalez.
New Orleans Saints (projected record 12-4 or10-6): I know I sound nuts for counting out the defending champs especially considering they still have Drew Brees at QB and they didn’t lose a whole lot in the off season. I’m concerned with their defense which again sounds insane but they were as good as they were because of interceptions, which isn’t something you can replicate year to year. I could be wrong and they go 13-3 again but they’re running game is also a question mark. They will put up a boatload of points for sure and Sean Payton is still their head coach. I liken this team to New Orleans series “Treme,” it had a lot of press but failed to capture America for very long despite being a great product. That’s where the Saints will be this year. Everyone is seduced by Favre, Romo, the Falcons, and Rodgers and assumes the disease of more will set in with the Saints. I think Brees will put a good product on the field and will go somewhat unnoticed which again sounds insane.
Fantasy: Brees, Colston, Thomas, Meachem, Hartley, and maybe their defense.
Carolina Panthers (projected record 6-10): The Panthers will be a mess this year. I know Santa Clarita loves Matt Moore because he went to Hart but I’ll bet he either gets hurt or just loses his job to Jimmy Claussen (let the record show I think he’s a bigger jerk then Spencer Pratt), the running game is really good with the two-headed monster of Williams and Stewart but there are no quality receivers outside of Steve Smith. This means that Smith will see a lot of double teams. The defense will be below average though I love Beason at linebacker. Kris Jenkins is now with the Jets and Peppers is gone. John Fox is in the final year of his contract and I doubt that he’ll want to coach the Panthers after this year.
Fantasy: Stewart, Williams, and maybe Smith.
Coaching Hot Seat: Fox will just call it a day in Carolina and be the pick of the litter when teams are looking for a new coach as well he should be.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-11): This team was in major rebuilding mode last year and yeah they’re still building but the outlook is definitely better. Josh Freeman will continue to get better and now that they brought in rookies Arrelious Benn, and Mike Williams to go with Michael Clayton and Kellen Winslow. They also have Cadilac and Derrick Ward in the backfield. Defensively they drafted Gerald McCoy and Brian Price at DT which should give them some foundation upfront. The rest of the defense is not terrible as they have Barret Ruud, Alston, Talib, and Ronde Barber. There is still a lot of work to be done but assuming Raheem Morris can continue to grow as a head coach this team can maybe fight for a playoff spot in about three years or so. Fantasy: Maybe Kellen Winslow, maybe Cadillac Williams, and maybe Arrelious Benn.
NFC WEST (the bottom of the barrel)
San Francisco 49ers (projected record 10-6): This division is such a joke and the least comical of those jokes are the Niners. Singletarry is a great coach and they have a ton of talent on both sides. Frank Gore is still a great running back, Vernon Davis finally figured out that you have to be more then just a freak athlete in order to play TE. We’ll see how good Crabtree is when he doesn’t hold out until Halloween and the two offensive tackles the Niners drafted in the first round should protect Alex Smith. Smith by the way is on his last chance in San Francisco and if he underperforms then the Niners will definitely be getting a new QB. Defensively they’ve got to feel great about getting Manny Lawson back because now Patrick Willis should be a little freer to dominate not that was ever a problem (Willis is another pick the Rams missed out on but I digress. Nate Clements should have a decent year and this unit could be better then many expect.
Fantasy: Gore, Davis, 49ers Defense, and Crabtree.
Arizona Cardinals (projected record 9-7): With Kurt Warner gone it’s up to Matt Leinart to prove that he was more then just another guy Pete Carroll paid to attend USC. Leinart has been a bust thus far and even though he has one of the best WRs in Fitzgerald and a decent backfield with Beanie Wells and Tim Hightower he still is without Boldinand has a lot of work to do. Defensively they lost Antrel Rolle and Karlos Dansby and will have to figure it out. I think Arizona’s luck is about to run out.
Fantasy: Fitzgerald, Wells.
St. Louis Rams (projected record 4-12): Before I begin let me just chug this handle of Sailor Jerry and debate as to whether or not I should light myself on fire. The Rams have an overrated rookie QB who hasn’t played since October and had shoulder surgery, they have only one decent receiver in Donnie Avery and their defense is an abomination except for Chris Long, James Laurinitus, and O.J. Atogwe. They have no one left from their 06 and 07 drafts, their offensive line is once again patchwork, and gave away Will Witherspoon for a Philly cheese steak sandwich, and no visible TE. Oh yeah, they traded Alex Barron who was a head case but a decent tackle for Bobby Carpenter who I thought was just a good linebacker on a great team but turns out he’s awful. However, there are three positives I’m clinging to. They still have Stephen Jackson who is a monster (case in point he gained over a 1000 yards despite having an offensive line that couldn’t block Lindsey Lohan from a bowl of cocaine. Steve Spagnuolo is a promising coach and needs two more years until he changes the culture, and they were just purchased by Steve Kroenke who owns the Denver Nuggets and Colorado Avalanche. He is a Rams fan and has deep pockets especially when he doesn’t have to pay Carmelo Anthony once they trade him or let him walk. That is the only silver lining I have or a team that’s gone 6-42 the last three years. Thank god I’ve decided to take better care of myself or my liver will look like the vampires on “True Blood” after they’re staked.
Fantasy: Stephen Jackson.
Seattle Seahawks (projected record 3-13): Pete Carroll dodged the USC Trojans when he saw the NCAA coming with sanctions. Instead of blowing his brains out like the warden in “The Shawshank Redemption” he took 35 million to coach the Seahawks. The team lost a lot and is in bigger shambles then the Rams because at least we have a running back and a quarterback. Carroll is hoping that Hasselbeck won’t get hurt (he will), that T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Deion Branch aren’t old (they are) and that he has more then Aaron Curry on defense (he doesn’t). The running joke is that Carroll will fail a third time as an NFL coach because he forgets that the other teams pay their players too. Those who make that joke are absolutely right. I’m personally glad the Seahawks get to go down in flames. Though the city doesn’t deserve it, I still feel bad they lost the Sonics. Oh well.
Fantasy: Maybe Houshmandzadeh.
AFC: Top two seeds: Indianapolis Colts, Baltimore Ravens.
1st round: Jets over Steelers and Dolphins over Chargers.
2nd round: Ravens over Jets and Colts over Dolphins.
AFC Championship: Colts over Ravens
NFC: Top two seeds: Dallas Cowboys, Green Bay Packers.
1st round: Falcons over Redskins and 49ers over Vikings.
2nd round: Cowboys over 49ers and Packers over Falcons.
NFC Championship: Cowboys over Packers (you’re welcome Wes seriously I was so close to picking Green Bay but then again if they win they play the Super Bowl at home).
Super Bowl: Colts over Cowboys (sorry Wes, Manning is just better then Romo).
There you have it and if I end up being totally full of it, who cares? I’m just the movie guy.
Thank You for reading.