09/06/2006: "NFL Season Preview BlackSportsOnline Style"
BlackSportsOnline NFL Season Preview
Written Robert Littal
Email Robert Littal
Lets just cut to the chase; it is NFL time. You have questions and I have the answers all the way to who will win the Super Bowl. So, enough small talk, letís get down to business:
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Before we get to the predictions let me answer the burning questions around the league:
You donít even need a sentence to know what the question is. Simply put, this is the final stop for Owens, so he has no choice but to be on his best behavior. Donít get me wrong, he is always going to be T.O., but I donít anticipate the kind of problems he had in Philly. He just canít afford to screw this up. The hamstring thing was overblown and while the missing meetings situation raised a red flag it wasnít the over-the-top thing that will bring him down. Bill Parcells is a smart guy and knows he needs T.O. to make one final push for the Super Bowl. Owens has to know that if he can get to another Super Bowl and win it that he will get the final laugh at all the media who have their heart set on bringing him down. So for this year at least, donít expect any major T.O. blowups.
What about all the injured players coming back?
Modern medicine is a beautiful thing. Daunte Culpepper, Drew Brees, Javon Walker, Carson Palmer and several others have come back from severe injuries and look as good as new. Culpepper and Palmer specifically need to stay healthy for their teams to have a legit shot at the Super Bowl.
Is the New England Dynasty over?
Not quite, but their window of opportunity is closing. Actually, a better way of explaining it is that the teams in the AFC have gotten a lot better. As long as they have Tom Brady though, they have a shot. The defense needs to be better than last year and their running attack has to be more effective, but I wouldnít put money on them not making it to another Super Bowl.
Who is a marquee player prime for a bounce back year?
Donovan McNabb will be riding a wave of Owens hate to a very good year in my opinion. He is in better shape and is out to prove that he is still the main reason why the Eagles are a successful organization. He is out to prove that Owens did not make him a better QB and that he and he only is the reason why he is an elite QB.
Should Brett Favre retire?
No, but he should request a trade because it is obvious he doesnít want to be in Green Bay. People think I have something against ďGodĒ Favre but that isnít the case. I just think Favre lies and that people overlook his shortcomings as a QB (they are getting a little better now). Favre wanted out of Green Bay this offseason, but instead of just asking he tried to force the Packers to do it and they called his bluff. Now he is stuck in a horrible situation for possibly his final season. Do the right thing Brett and just walk into the GMís office and ask for the trade youíve been dying to ask for.
Any thoughts on Peyton Manning and the Colts?
When they make it to the Super Bowl I will speak on them. Until then, Manning and Dungy will be considered a great player and a great coach who canít win the big game.
Will the Steelers repeat?
3 months ago I would have said they had a good shot, but now after everything that has gone down with Big Ben and Cowher I donít think they have good karma going into the season. The Steelers under Cowher have a history having a good season then having a bad season. I just donít think it is in the cards.
Which player is in for a Ja Rule like fall off?
Corey Dillon is on his way out as the Patriots starting RB in favor of Laurence Maroney. Randy Moss needs to prove again he is explosive as he was in the past. If not, he is going to become just a regular WR. Drew Bledsoe may find himself on the bench by midseason, which could be a good thing for the Cowboys.
Which Rookies will have the greatest impact?
Running backs come to mind. Reggie Bush, Laurence Maroney, DíAngelo Williams, Mike Bell and a few others may have 1000 yards season once the season is over. Matt Leinart may have a Ben Rothlisberger situation if he takes over for Kurt Warner if he gets hurt.
Jerius Norwood for ATL. If Warrick Dunn gets hurt Norwood will make sure he never sees the field again.
Is this the year the Arizona Cardinals get over the hump?
It is set up for them perfectly. Weak division, explosive offense and attacking defense. The only thing that should worry you Cardinal fans is that offensive line because none of the above will mean anything if Edge canít run and they canít protect Warner/Leinart.
Now lets get to the predicting (gamblers take note)
New England Patriots: 11-5
Miami Dolphins: 11-5
Buffalo Bills: 4-12
New York Jets: 3-13
This is a 2 horse race that I think the Patriots will win by beating the Dolphins late in the season, but I think both teams make the playoffs. The Bills and Jets are at least 2-3 years away from making any noise in the division. In short, they suck.
Cincinnati Bengals: 11-5
Baltimore Ravens: 10-6
Pittsburgh Steelers: 9-7
Cleveland Browns: 5-11
If Carson Palmer can stay healthy and they can navigate a rough early schedule the Bengals should win the division. Simply put, they are the most talented team in the division. Steve McNair will help the Ravens, but I just donít feel comfortable with him getting through a 16 game season, and that means we will see Garbage Boller which is not a good thing. The Steelers as I pointed out before are in for a little slide and the Browns are not there just yet.
Indianapolis Colts: 12-4
Jacksonville Jaguars: 10-6
Houston Texans: 4-12
Tennessee Titans: 3-13
I am not going to speak on the Colts until they actually make it to the Super Bowl. The Jags seem like they are 10-6 or 11-5 every year. The Texans will be a little better. They would have been a lot better with Reggie Bush, and the Titans are just a disaster.
Denver Broncos: 11-5
San Diego Chargers: 9-7
Kansas City Chiefs: 8-8
Oakland Raiders: 7-9
The Broncos are a solid team on both side of the ball, but is Jake Plummer a Super Bowl QB? The Chiefs are getting old real fast and the Chargers are going to need at least 1 year before Philip Rivers is ready to take them to bigger and better things. I think Art Shell will turn the Raiders around, but not this year.
Wild Card Round:
Baltimore Ravens 17 vs. New England Patriots 28
Miami Dolphins 27 vs. Cincinnati Bengals 28
Cincinnati Bengals 31 vs. Indianapolis Colts 27
New England Patriots 20 vs. Denver Broncos 34
Cincinnati Bengals 24 vs. Denver Broncos 27
Dallas Cowboys: 12-4
Philadelphia Eagles: 10-6
New York Giants: 9-7
Washington Redskins 7-9
Forget about T.O. for a second, the Dallas D will be the determining factor in their division title. Philly fueled by T.O. will be right in the hunt. The Giants will take a step back and the Redskins will bid farewell to Joe Gibbs after the season.
Chicago Bears: 9-7
Minnesota Vikings: 8-8
Green Bay Packers: 4-12
Detroit Lions: 3-13
Not a good division at all, but the Bears will win it probably once Brian Griese takes over as QB. The Vikings are always an underachieving squad no matter who the coach is. You know what I think of ďGodĒ Favre and the Packers. Until the Lions fire Matt Millen, they will never be any good.
Carolina Panthers: 10-6
Atlanta Falcons: 9-7
Tampa Bay Bucs: 9-7
New Orleans Saints: 5-11
Brutal division, but the Panthers will pull it out. ATL and TB could easily end up as division champions as well if things break their way. The Saints are 1 or 2 years away from doing some major damage.
Seattle Seahawks: 14-2
Arizona Cardinals: 10-6
Saint Louis Rams: 7-9
San Francisco 49ers: 2-14
Seattle is the class of the NFC. This will be the year Arizona makes a strong push for the playoffs. The Rams are just average, and the 49ers will be on the clock for the #1 pick in the NFL Draft; the question will be will they draft Brady Quinn if they already have Alex Smith?
Wild Card Round:
Arizona Cardinals 10 vs. Carolina Panthers 33
Philadelphia Eagles 17 vs. Chicago Bears 13
Philadelphia Eagles 20 vs. Seattle Seahawks 30
Carolina Panthers 24 vs. Dallas Cowboys 27
Dallas Cowboys 17 vs. Seattle Seahawks 14
NFC Champion: Dallas Cowboys
Denver Broncos 28
Dallas Cowboys 31
Super Bowl Champion: