How Does One Cope with the End of Football: A 2009 NFL Preview

Matt CullenAnalyst IFebruary 10, 2009

Seems like an odd time I know for this; the draft is still a couple months away, a lot can and will happen in free agency, and Brett Favre might not even know if he's coming by the Hall of Fame Game.

Regardless, there is no such thing as talking too much football. If somebody tries to tell you otherwise you just avoid eye contact and walk away, or hit them with a sledgehammer to get their undivided attention.

The point is, we as Americans breathe NFL. Congratulations to the Pittsburgh Steelers but they are old news right now to the rest of America. It's all now about anticipation. And 2009 is a fresh start for the other 31 teams, so now here are some predictions on the next season.

1.The New England Patriots are running away with the AFC East whether Tom Brady is under center or not.

Remember that they finished 11-5 with Laurence Maroney missing virtually the entire season and some early season growing pains from Matt Cassel.

The Miami Dolphins were a great story but nobody is going to be sleeping on them next year. They have an average defense, an average receiving core, and it seems like Chad Pennington is at the point where he is just productive every other year. By no means do I think they will be 1-15 or even close to that but they won't make a serious run at a division title this year.

Favre is on record saying he doesn't want to get surgery, I really do think he's played his last game and they have no replacement like an Aaron Rodgers waiting in the wings. You can also kiss Thomas Jones' 15 total TD's good-bye.

I like Rex Ryan, but he has some work to do with this defense, not an awful defense but also very average. Despite making the Pro Bowl, Kris Jenkins was somewhat of a bust lacking stamina to make a huge impact and to me is Pro Bowl was undeserved.

I actually kinda like this Bills team because I think Marshaun Lynch has a better year and they will have a more effective pass rush with Schoebel healthy. However, not enough to be a serious threat to the Patriots.

2.The Houston Texans will NOT sneak in and take a playoff spot.

They seem to be pretty popular sleeper pick with the way they finished the season, I'm not buying it. Tennessee and Indianapolis are still too strong. Houston has a mediocre defense and despite playing well when healthy, I still don't trust Matt Schaub.

3.The five worst records in the NFL will read like this in order from best record to worst:

Oakland Raiders (3-13)- Some are impressed with the way the Oakland Raiders ended the season beating a hot Houston team and a Tampa Bay team that needed to win. They think Tom Cable has the Raiders heading in the right direction. I say NAY! After all these are the Oakland Raiders, Al Davis is still nuts, and Jamarcus Russel is still their QB.

Cincinnati Bengals (3-13)- What in the world does Marvin Lewis have to do to get fired? Choke a player? Light the stadium on fire? Seriously what's going on? Say good-bye to Houshmandzadeh but don't worry Carson Palmer, your contract expires soon.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-14)- Yes that's right, the same team that started 9-3 last year. The defense is aging, Garcia may be gone. (Not that the passing game is very explosive with him anyway.) Of their three main RB's, one is 34 years old, another has torn a patellar tendon in each of his knees the past two years, and the other also ended the year on IR.

Not to mention, the Bucs play an absolutely brutal schedule. Aside from playing six games in a tough division they also match up with the NFC East (Where every team last year won between 8-12 games), AFC East (Every team won between 7-11 games), home against a Green Bay team that I think is a lot better than their record from last indicates and at Seattle.

Detroit Lions (1-15) -Matt Millen is gone but this reclamation project will take awhile, worst defense in the league, one of the worst offensive lines, no QB, and an average running game at best.

I'm also skeptical of the Jim Schwartz hiring, a man who from what I have heard was really the defensive coordinator in name only. Of course similar things were said about Mike Smith coming from Jacksonville to Atlanta and look what they did...Nah, still not seeing it for the Lions.

St Louis Rams (1-15) -The St. Louis Rams don't get enough credit for how putrid they were being out-shined by an 0-16 Lions team. If you take away the three-game stretch that they played well immediately after the coaching change, the 2008 St. Louis Rams looked like this:

-Lost by an average score of 31-13

-Only came within two scores four times

-Lost within the division by an average score of 30-14 (In a weak division.)

They did play close in their last three games but none of those games against teams with anything to play for really. They are terrible on both sides, have one of the thinnest rosters in the NFL, and are my pick as the worst team of 2009.

4. And how much do I like this Green Bay Packers team?

Glad you asked, not only do I think the Green Bay Packers will improve upon their 6-10 record but I think they very well could be the best team in the NFL if the defense is healthy.

They went 6-10 despite scoring nearly 40 more points than they gave up. This team suffered a ridiculous amount of injuries on defense, Cullen Jenkins who was sorely missed against the run missed the last 12 games, Barnett missed seven games, Al Harris and Atari Bigby each missed about a month, and Charles Woodson and Aaron Rouse also battled injuries throughout the year.

The Green Bay Packers also lost seven of their 10 games by four points or less, I think this year Aaron Rodgers (Who had a really good year to begin with.) will start to finish these games and become an MVP candidate.

5. The Carolina Panthers miss the playoffs and Jake Delhoumme gets benched some time during the season.

This defense didn't get enough credit this year for being mediocre this year, and now they are likely subtracting Julius Peppers from that defense.

DeAngelo Williams comes back down to earth somewhat after a ridiculous second half of last season and the Carolina Panthers' fear of Jake Delhoumme will haunt them throughout the year. I think Delhoumme blows a couple big games and gets benched for Matt Moore who fails miserably.

Delhoumme probably gets back in sometime before the season ends and the Panthers will stay in the playoff hunt but it will be too little too late as I predict that the Carolina Panthers will finish 9-7, third in the division, and narrowly miss the playoffs.


6. Other Predictions:

SB: Patriots over Packers

SB MVP: Tom Brady

Conference Championship Game Losers: Falcons and Chargers

Regular Season MVP: Tom Brady

Offensive Player of the Year: Tom Brady

Defensive Player of the Year: DeMarcus Ware

Coach of the Year: Mike McCarthy


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