Thursday, August 24, 2006

NFL Preview: AFC Edition

This represents all the definitive answers to what will occur in the American Football Conference during the 2006 campaign toward Super Bowl XLI. The results are based partly on a nine category statistical analysis on a rating of 1-13 known by some as The Simool System and partly by how I, as an individual, feel the schedules will shake down. Eat it, Nostradamus, these are predictions you can bank on.

AFC NORTH: CINCINNATTI BENGALS: (12-4) [8.66]: The offense has really come into its own. While they have some defensive problems on their front seven and will probably give up a lot of points, they have the highest power offense in the AFC right now and shouldn’t have a problem. PITTSBURGH STEELERS (10-6) [9.22]: Our defending Super Bowl Champions will not be repeating this year, and their record will reflect the level of talent. Their defense will be one of the best in the league, but their short game offense will force them into a lot of close games and they won’t be able to win all of them. BALTIMORE RAVENS (7-9) [7.66]: The Ravens are going to be a much better team this year, but their record will not reflect it in the end. The RB corps is fantastic with the acquisition of Mike Anderson, Steve McNair should add some electricity to the offense, and the defense is still strong and made better with the addition of Oregon’s Haloti Ngata, but their schedule is tough. A lot of close games for them, and they’ll come on the losing end of it. CLEVELAND BROWNS (3-13) [6.33]: I’m sorry Mr. Trend, but it’s true. Cleveland is, by the Simool System, the worst team in the NFL this year. The best thing they have going for them on the field is Ruben Droughns which doesn’t say a lot (Charlie Frye, who?). Plus, having to play the above three teams six times is rough. They should be thankful they don’t have the Lions’ organization.

AFC SOUTH: INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (10-6) [10.00]: Peyton Manning is great and all, but they’ve lost some key people that make me think that the magic is over. They’ll still beat up on the weakest division in the AFC, but better opposition will cause them woes in the end. TENNESSEE TITANS (8-8) [7.77]: The Titans have a strong defense with an underrated line, they have a formidable group of RBs, but their situation at QB is pretty discouraging. If Young is put in and plays like a prodigy, they’ll do better, but Billy Volek isn’t getting anything done for anybody. HOUSTON TEXANS (7-9) [6.66]: I’m very curious to see how Gary Kubiak does with Denver’s system over the next couple of years, but they don’t have the players to succeed…maybe soon. Carr and Davis are worthy players, but need support that just isn’t there. The only reason is only so good because of the Jaguars and the Titans. JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (6-10) [6.77]: An offense led by Byron Leftwich and Fred Taylor? Somebody catch me; I’m going to faint. What an offense. They have a good secondary, and that’s the only thing that will give them a chance for points.

AFC EAST: MIAMI DOLPHINS (12-4) [8.44]: The Dolphins is my outside pick to win it all this year. They’re underrated, and Culpepper could collapse again, but I think they’ve acquired outstanding depth and are the most improved team in the league this year. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (11-5) [8.55]: The popular pick, no doubt, from recent successes, and I think they’ll be a very good team, but I was never one for the popular pick. What both the Pats and the Dolphins benefit from is playing the Bills and the Jets. What a couple of sad sack teams. BUFFALO BILLS (4-12) [7.77]: I think that, since the string of Super Bowl losses, the Bills are cursed for all times. Kelly Holcomb and JP Losman throwing to Josh Reed and Lee Evans?..good lord. Defensively, they could do some damage, but there are a lot of questions about health and age there. NEW YORK JETS (3-13) [6.88]: Personally, I believe that the J-E-T-S are the worst team in the NFL this season, so my heart goes out to the Cleveland Browns, but the Simool System is what it is. They’re a JV team in pro uniforms. Weak on offense, weak on defense, weak on the sidelines, weak everywhere.

AFC WEST: DENVER BRONCOS (13-3) [10.33]: I’ll grant that I’m a Broncos fan and, I suppose, will have no credibility during the next few sentences. Be that as it may, the Simool System has them as the best team and they tie for best record in the AFC coming from the toughest division in the conference. They have the second best overall defense and the best 4-3 LBs in the NFL. The only question mark for me is at quarterback; Jake Plummer makes too many mistakes and I don’t want to see Jay Cutler play a down until next year. Whether or not they win the Super Bowl, I have my biases, but I do believe they are the team best suited for the AFC Championship. KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (10-6) [9.44]: Ok, my credibility has come back. The Chiefs are scary. Herman Edwards is scary; the Jets were crazy to let him go. Larry Johnson is scary; he seems even better than Priest Holmes ever way. Defensively, they’re always seriously scary. SAN DIEGO CHARGERS (8-8) [9.22]: If only Gates, McCardell, and Tomlinson had somebody to throw to them, they’d be a hell of a lot better. One can say that Philip Rivers will be good, but I’ll believe it when I see it. They have some of the best players in football, and this is the best they will do. They won’t be able to keep up with either the Broncos or the Chiefs. OAKLAND RAIDERS (6-10) [7.00]: The Raiders have taken a lot of steps to becoming a better team—Art Shell and Aaron Brooks most namely. They aren’t there and I don’t think Al Davis has enough going on upstairs anymore to run a vacuum cleaner, let alone a pro football team. I’m not sold on the idea of bringing in old blood to ease a team’s troubles, but Davis is far superior to Norv Turner. Many key players are in place to make a good team, but the organization is shot and can’t support success.

In the end, there will be a fight for the playoffs with Kansas City and Pittsburgh, and I think the Steelers will return and send the Chiefs packing. Denver will likely make the AFC Championship if they don’t have to face the Colts, since the Broncos don’t like to let the Colts punt during playoff games. I’m guessing they’ll face the Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl, and it’ll be just like the old AFC West “rivalries,” and it’ll be fun to see.