Friday, September 08, 2006
My AFC Predictions
New England Patriots: Will the Pats make it back to the big one? I don’t think so. Will they even win the AFC East? Maybe. QB Tom Brady can take himself to Joe Montana/Terry Bradshaw levels if he can do it again, but this year will be tougher than ever because the talent surrounding him just isn’t as good as it’s been in the past. Coach Belichick reminds me a lot of Lorne Michaels, the creator and director of Saturday Night Live, because nothing seems to phase him or get him upset. This could be the year. Their best wide receiver, David Givens, is gone. WR Deion Branch held out and rookie WR Chad Jackson was injured, so both of them missed most of training camp. The O line is older and the D line is a little beat up, so the Pats will need some revolutionary game plans to make it happen in ’06.
Miami Dophins: These fish are as raw as fresh sushi, but with one of the best head coaches in the business (Saban), new QB Daunte Culpepper, who looks healed after an injury many people predicted might be a career-ender, and an exciting second-year RB in Ronnie Brown, the Dolphins look poised to dive into the playoff tank. After winning the last six games of the season this year, they’re ready to jump through some hoops to get there. Despite a lot of off-season moves designed to upgrade their suspect defense, including the addition of rookie S Jason Allen, CB’s Will Allen, and Andre Goodman, as well as FS Renaldo Hill – Miami is hoping to stop pass-happy teams from turning them into stinky chum.
Kansas City Chiefs: With the emergence of RB Larry Johnson during the second half of the season last year, QB Trent Green will be able to hand the ball off a minimum of 35 times per game, which will take the pressure off of him arm and other susceptible parts of his anatomy. New coach Herm Edwards is a superb motivator and puts his heart and soul into every team he coaches – kind of like former KC coach Dick Vermeil. On defense MLB Kawika Mitchell and OLB Derrick Johnson will cause more havoc than Paris Hilton at Studio 54. Of course, the offensive line lost two of its biggest pieces – OT’s Willie Roaf and John Welbourn, so it will be interesting to see if Johnson will still be a star or just another little Indian.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Most of the Steel Curtain is back to pull the drapes shut on the rest of the AFC, They’ll miss WR Antwaan Randle El, but the team is counting on rookie Santonio Holmes to fill that hole. Ben Roethlisberger is smart in the pocket and had one of the most impressive seasons a rookie quarterback has ever had, but he’s a complete idiot for ever getting on a motorcycle and he paid the price. RB Willie Parker should be able to get through some big holes created by guys like LG Alan Faneca and RT Max Starks. And the defense, led by SS Troy Polamalu and loudmouth but hard-hitting OLB Joey Porter, should keep opponents out of the end zone long enough for Steelers' fans to once again begin chanting, “We got a feeling…”
Indianapolis Colts: With Peyton Manning about as frustrated in the postseason as the Buffalo Bills are in the history of the Super Bowl, the pressure is on these horses to gallop all the way to the finish line. Edgerrin James is gone, but RB’s Dominic Rhodes and Joseph Addai should be able to eat up enough yards on the ground to take the Colts to the promised pasture known as the Super Bowl. WR’s Marvin Harrision and Reggie Wayne are great targets for the man with the golden arm, and with behemoths like LT Tarik Glenn and C Jeff Saturday knocking opposing defenses back, this team can play on Sundays. On defense, RE Dwight Feeney, FS Mike Doss and OLB Cato June should all help this team be there in late January. This herd of studs isn’t going to be happy to place or show, so watch out AFC!
Cincinnati Bengals: This team revolves 100% around QB Carson Palmer. If he’s healthy, the tigers have more than enough in their tank to take it all. If the rest of the Bengals can keep up with their Johnson’s they will be back in the playoff picture in ’06. They’ve got RB Rudi Johnson, who is fast and tough; they’ve got WR Chad Johnson who is loud and clutch, and they have OLB Landon Johnson who is all of the above. The only problem they could run into is if Palmer can’t play, because backup QB Anthony Wright is really, really wrong. I can’t believe they didn’t spend some serious cash on a more capable backup. If the parts of this striped puzzle can emerge from the jungle in one piece, Cincy may finally be able to stop chasing its own tail.