Projecting Outlooks for the NFL's Biggest Jekyll-and-Hyde Teams
The New York Jets are one of the most inconsistent teams in the NFL.
They're like a box of chocolates—you never know what you're going to get. One week, the team looks like a Super Bowl contender, and then the next week it looks like the worst team in the NFL.
The Jets are far from the only team in the NFL that could be related to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Follow me as I take a look at five of the most up-and-down teams in the league and project how they'll do going forward for the rest of the year.
Projected Outlook: Tempestuous
Let's pretend for a moment that Jay Cutler isn't a pouty child...
Coming up on the Bears' schedule are a bunch of games versus teams with strong pass-rushers. They face the Dallas Cowboys, Detroit Lions (twice), Green Bay Packers, Houston Texans, San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, Arizona Cardinals and Minnesota Vikings (twice).
Even with a grown-up quarterback leading this team, the offensive line is so bad that whoever lines up behind center is going to be assaulted mercilessly all season long. With Cutler leading the charge, it could get even worse unless he somehow starts treating his teammates with the respect they deserve and starts acting like a true leader.
Chicago's defense isn't good enough to keep the Bears in games where their offense can't generate points. This isn't the 2006 team that can win games on defense and special teams alone.
The Bears will be fortunate to win eight or nine games.
Projected Outlook: Turbulent Skies Ahead For These Birds
Michael Vick looks to have regressed lately. His technique and footwork are sloppy, and he continues to make decisions that rookies make on a regular basis, throwing the ball into double- and triple-coverage.
He's thrown 15 touchdowns and 17 interceptions in his last 11 games, dating back to Week 5 of the 2011 season.
It's really a shame, too, because the Philadelphia Eagles are absolutely stacked with talent across their roster, and their defense is starting to come together and play up to their talent level.
Vick isn't getting better. If anything, he's getting worse, and until we see him start to play with more intelligence and discipline, the Eagles are going to fall short of their potential.
I don't see the Eagles winning more than nine games in 2012.
Projected Outlook: Watch Out For Potholes
The Dallas Cowboys got embarrassed in Seattle, but I don't see that game defining this team. If anything, it was just one of a few potholes in an otherwise smooth road for them the rest of the way in 2012.
The team's two biggest concerns right now are on the offensive and defensive lines. Tony Romo needs better protection, and the Cowboys need to run the ball better. Also, this team can't continue to allow big games from opposing running backs.
These are concerns that can and will be corrected as the season wears on. Unless the Cowboys get hit with a rash of injuries, I don't see why the team can't win nine or 10 games. Their schedule isn't necessarily easy, but it's manageable.
The biggest key for the Cowboys is how they respond to tough losses like the one they suffered in Week 2. The sky isn't falling in Dallas, and the Cowboys will come back with a big win in Week 3 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
New York Jets
Projected Outlook: More Contentious Than Ever
The New York Jets haven't even begun to scratch the surface of how contentious things are about to get in their locker room, and the constant coverage from the New York media is going to be like a constant rash that never goes away.
Rex Ryan's leadership has led this team to the edge of a cliff, and the impending jump isn't going to be pretty.
Players are allowed to express whatever they want—a policy that has already opened up too many cans of worms to list here and one that promotes a "me-first" mentality.
Furthermore, this team has major issues on both sides of the ball that opposing teams can and will exploit all season long. They don't stop the run on defense (4.8 yards per carry in 2012) and they can't run the ball on offense (3.6 yards per carry in 2012).
It's going to be a long season for the Jets, and while I do expect this team to pull together for some excellent outings, in the end, they won't win more than seven games.
New York Giants
Projected Outlook: Blue Skies, Nothing but Blue Skies
Okay, perhaps it isn't going to be all blue skies for Big Blue, but this team is better-equipped than all the others on this list to handle adversity.
The Super Bowl champs of a year ago surprised nobody by coming out of the gates this year flat-footed. But, it would seem the upstart Tampa Bay Buccaneers awoke a sleeping giant in Week 2 after what we saw from the team in Week 3 on the road at Carolina.
Eli Manning may be the best late-game quarterback I've seen since Joe Montana. His cool demeanor and cold-blooded instincts give the Giants a chance to win every game they play. Even more impressive is his ability to put up big numbers in crunch time without an offensive line to speak of and without his primary receiver.
Once the secondary starts getting healthy (assuming it does at some point), the team has a great shot to make another run at a championship.
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