by Rob Donigian
Every year sports analysts, fans, and everyone from Joe Blow to Jow Blow’s mom attempts to predict which teams will win each division. Just like there are darkhorse teams, there are teams that go from living on Cloud Nine one season to eating dirt the next. So with that in mind, here are my division losers.
New York Giants
Eagles aside, picking a loser from this bunch was like trying to pick which girl to take home from some redneck bar in Kentucky. Do you choose the one with the most teeth or one the smells the least like manure? The Redskins, while pathetic, still have some semblance of being a decent football team. Decently skilled position players and the drafting of Jason Campbell at QB show that they’re at least attempting to answer some of last year’s questions. The Cowboys, while having a horrific offense this year, should have a good enough defense on the field to secure them at least one more win than the NY Giants.
Going into the off season the Giants had some huge holes and did little to solve any of them. Their offensive line was atrocious, so what do they do? They go across town and vastly overpay a slightly above average OT in Kareem McKenzie. Another one of their huge problems was with their wide receiving corps. To solve that they went out and signed one of the biggest underachieving mental cases in the game today in Plaxico Burress. Good work Ernie! And by “Good work” I mean “Get ready for retirement.”
New Orleans Saints
The Deuce is loose. So what? New Orleans is in line for another crappy season. Although, look for Tampa Bay to possibly steal this ‘loser’ title from the Saints. My prediction for this team is that Aaron Brooks will throw more touchdowns for the opposition than he does for his own team. They have failed to upgrade any position outside of offensive tackle with rookie Jammal Brown and cornerback with mid-season pick-up Mike McKenzie, who got too much hype for a few good games when he was with the Packers. But the main problem with the Saints isn’t even with the guys who aren’t on the roster, but with the ones who are. As long as Aaron Brooks is behind center and the underachieving Donte Stallworth is a starting WR, the Saints will NEVER leave the basement.
Minnesota Vikings *upset special*
This was a hard pick to make. Not because the teams are so great, but because they’re all so mediocre. Any team that trades away one of the best WR’s to ever play the game in the prime of his career for some JAG (Just Another Guy) linebacker needs to be punished. Any team that then goes ahead and drafts Troy Williamson instead of Mike Williams to take Moss’ spot deserves to be even further punished. Sentence: 5-11 and the 4th pick in the 2006 NFL Draft. Oooh, that just gave me idea for another article. But I digress. If I didn’t mention this before, Ted Cottrell is still their defensive coordinator. How pathetic can this team get?
The Chicago Bears are certainly the favorites to be the ultimate losers in the North but a healthy defense and another year under Lovie Smith will certainly make this team much better than it was in 2004. Rex Grossman may not be a top QB in the league but he’s certainly good enough to win his team some games. The fate of 2005 Bears offense rests on their top rookie draft pick, running back Cedric Benson.
Mike Tice will lose his head coaching position, but not to worry because the Vikings organization has a position available for him in ticket sales where Tice has extensive experience. (Yeah, I went there!)
And I didn’t think it got any worse than the NFC East. It’s sad when the general consensus is that the Arizona Cardinals might be a favorite to win the division title. The last time they were even in the playoffs, the Jets were in the AFC Championship and….AARGHH, ok let’s forget that last sentence. So, why are the Seahawks the chosen basement dwellers? Well, aside from still having no team talent, they are even older and more disgruntled. Hopefully Mike Holmgren is given his walking papers, but I highly doubt it. Although the 49ers still suck, they may be an ’04 Steelers type team, from rags to riches. They have the skilled rookie QB, and have some promise on defense to go along with playing in a weak division. Also, Mike Nolan was a good pick-up for HC. Enough about San Fran though.The only bright spot on Seattle is their secondary. In fact, I’d trade theirs for the Jets any day of the week. Marcus Trufant, Ken Hamlin, Andre Dyson and Michael Boulware is mighty formidable especially now that former Jet Damien Robinson is nowhere to be found on the Seahawks roster. Their running back situation is up in the air with Shaun Alexander quibbling over his contract and who might get dealt. This is very bad news for an offense that has an inconsistent quarterback, Matt Hasselbeck and a group of wide receivers headed by the legendary…Darrell Jackson. Need I say more? The defensive front seven contains a group of guys that’d make even the most avid football fan shrug and say “who?” Overall, this team is filled with trash. But what team in Seattle isn’t these days?
Now on to a real conference.
The Denver Broncos are long overdue for a terrible season. The AFC West will certainly be high powered this season and Denver’s secondary is about as consistently bad as their running game is good. Their strong points are at offensive line, running back, and linebacker. However, almost every other position has huge question marks. Whose bright idea was it to sign nearly every single member of the most underachieving unit on possibly the worst team in football: Cleveland’s defensive line? You have to wonder how these front offices get paid for some of their decisions. If you were wondering how defective the Browns defensive line was last year I’ll point out two glaring stats: Cleveland was dead last in the league against the run, giving up 2,314 yards. They were also tied for 27th at getting to the quarterback with a mere 32 sacks. And now almost that entire group is cashing Bronco paychecks.
The other factor which hurts Denver this year is the overall strength of the rest of the division. I was tempted to put Oakland in the AFC West basement but their high powered offense will bail their defense out greatly, especially if their offense can control the time of possession.
I used to be of the mindset that David Carr would be a somebody in this league. If David was actually a car, he’d be a Ford Mustang. He’s got the spec’s, he even has some of the performance but when it’s all said and done he still has the Ford symbol glued on him. Where’s the reliability? They traded for Phillip Buchanon in one of the deepest CB drafts in years. Hello?? I point to my statement above about some front offices. Dom Capers hasn’t done anything to take this team to the next level and will deinitely be on the hotseat this year. Capers was a favorite of many Jets fans during the Jets head coaching search during 2000-2002 seasons were upset to say the least when an unproven defensive backs coach named Herm Edwards was selected instead of Capers. How is that deal looking now?
Houston’s only shot is if their front seven on defense turns into the Steel Curtain. They’ll more than likely end up in that usual 6-10 or 7-9 range with promises that “next year” will certainly be the year they break out and become the force they’ve falsely portrayed themselves as in past pre-seasons.
Although I don’t see the Browns as being as bad a team as they were in 2004/5, they just won’t be able to compete with the rest of the division this season. Besides, as I was walking around my apartment complex last night a drunken Bengals fan started a conversation with me ( I live in Cincinnati if you weren’t aware). He promised me that the Browns will be the worst team in the NFL next year and that the Bengals already have their tickets punched for the playoffs. He also bet me $25 that the Bengals would have a better record then the Jets.
So I mean, he must know what he’s talking about.
There’s only so much magic Romeo Crennel will be able to work with that players he has. Even the grave-robber that is Bill Belichick went 5-11 his first year in New England.
New York Jets
Who else would you be expecting me to place here? Buffalo won’t be much of a contender either with Rob Johnson back at the helm…err J.P. Losman. The Miami Dolphins are still in a tailspin. Nick Saban will prove to be yet another great college head coach who couldn’t coach in the pros if his life depended on it. They still have the old man Zach Thomas at ILB in Miami’s new 3-4. Additionally, the Fins secondary is a mere shell of what it was.
I wish I had some witty joke to throw in here but when a team is deciding between AJ Feeley and AJ Feeley to be their starting QB, there is no joke–only sadness and depression for Dolphins fans (which means happiness for everyone else). The rest of the league’s fanbase can rejoice because they aren’t leaving the cellar until J.P. Losman decides to go on the AFC East whipping post.
Recap of losers:
*I retain the right to change these teams at any point of the season.