Buying or Selling the Hype Surrounding Every NFL Team This Summer

Nick Kostos@@thekostosContributor IJuly 1, 2013

Buying or Selling the Hype Surrounding Every NFL Team This Summer

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    Now that the calendar has officially turned to July, the hype machine for every NFL team is in full effect as fans and media alike begin to craft a narrative for each squad as the 2013 season rapidly approaches.

    For some franchises, like the San Francisco 49ers and Atlanta Falcons, the hype is positive, and for others, like the Jacksonville Jaguars and New York Jets, well, not so much.

    It's time to examine the hype surrounding each NFL team, and whether to buy or sell that version of events:

Buffalo Bills

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    The Buffalo Bills currently hold the longest playoff drought in the NFL, having not qualified for the playoffs in a staggering 13 seasons (2000), and while no one is expecting the Bills to return to the tournament in 2013, it's safe to say that many believe them to be a team on the rise.

    That is an accurate assessment. New head coach Doug Marrone is tough-as-nails, and he made a spectacular hire at defensive coordinator with Mike Pettine, who will certainly help a unit that underachieved in 2012.

    There is talent throughout the 53-man roster, and the most important piece is at quarterback, where neophyte EJ Manuel will be given every opportunity to win the starting job.

    Will the Bills make the playoffs this season? No. Are they a team on the rise? Yes.


Miami Dolphins

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    This offseason, no team aggressively upgraded their roster like the Miami Dolphins, as general manager Jeff Ireland lavished cash on several top free agents, including wide receiver Mike Wallace and linebacker Dannell Ellerbe.

    Plus, the team made a stunning trade on the first night of April's draft, moving up to the third-overall pick to select Oregon defensive end Dion Jordan, who will join fellow end Cameron Wake to form a potentially devastating pass-rush.

    With second-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill continuing to develop and looking like a potential Pro Bowl candidate, many are trumpeting the Dolphins as a legitimate threat to overtake the Patriots and win the AFC East.

    While the Dolphins will be improved in 2013 and could challenge for a playoff spot, they aren't as good as New England. Their hype is a little too much right now.


New England Patriots

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    The New England Patriots, despite being winners of double-digit games for the past 10 seasons and perennial Super Bowl contenders, won't be taking home the Lombardi Trophy this upcoming February.

    Despite that fact, the concern surrounding New England is a bit much. It's true that, in all likelihood, the team will open up the regular season without their top five pass-catchers from 2012 (Wes Welker, Brandon Lloyd, Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez, Danny Woodhead), but the quarterback is still Tom Brady

    If you remember correctly, Brady has coaxed winning seasons out of receivers like David Givens, Reche Caldwell and Jermaine Wiggins. As long as he's under center, the Patriots offense will be just fine.

    So, while New England won't win the Super Bowl, people are too down on their chances. They'll win the AFC East and be a tough out come January.


New York Jets

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    The New York Jets appear to be a total disaster, a veritable dumpster fire of a 53-man roster that has no hope of contending for a playoff berth.

    While the defense could potentially be solid, the offense is a total disaster. Presumed starting quarterback Mark Sanchez has regressed for two seasons, and to say that the cupboard is bare when it comes to skill position players would be an insult to bare cupboards around the world.

    Head coach Rex Ryan needs to win to save his job in 2013.

    The Jets will have a new coach in 2014.

    Buy the hype that they're one of the worst teams in football, and sleep easy tonight.


Baltimore Ravens

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    The Baltimore Ravens, despite winning Super Bowl XLVII, have been the subject of far too much criticism and doubt this offseason.

    Yes, they lost several key players (linebacker Ray Lewis, safety Ed Reed, receiver Anquan Boldin and pass-rusher Paul Kruger among them), but general manager Ozzie Newsome and head coach John Harbaugh don't rebuild, they reload.

    Newsome had another stellar draft, with safety Matt Elam as the centerpiece. Plus, the team signed defensive end Elvis Dumervil, who will help the pass rush.

    And the quarterback is still Joe Flacco, and he's only coming off one of the great postseason performances in the history of the league.

    There isn't enough hype surrounding the Ravens right now. They're going to be better than you think.


Cincinnati Bengals

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    The Cincinnati Bengals, coming off back-to-back one-and-done performances in the postseason, are on the verge of breaking through. This will be the year they win at least one game in January.

    The draft was wildly successful for the team, as they selected tight end Tyler Eifert (first round) and running back Gio Bernard (second round), adding pop and sizzle to an offense in desperate need of it.

    The coaching staff, spearheaded by head coach Marvin Lewis, is one of the best in football. Offensive coordinator Jay Gruden and defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer will both be head coaches in the near future.

    With quarterback Andy Dalton continuing to improve and an underrated defense, the hype is too low on the Bengals. They're going to win the AFC North.


Cleveland Browns

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    The Cleveland Browns are being billed as a team on the rise, and that's a fair description of where they're at.

    No, they aren't going to make the playoffs this year. But the pieces are in place for this team to eventually mature into a postseason-caliber club. There are outstanding building blocks, like tackle Joe Thomas, receiver Josh Gordon, running back Trent Richardson and cornerback Joe Haden.

    New head coach Rob Chudzinski put together a tremendous staff, with Norv Turner coordinating the offense and Ray Horton the defense. That will greatly help a team that has seemingly underachieved since returning to the league in 1999.

    The Browns will be the worst team in their own division, but that's more a statement on how loaded the AFC North is. Even with that fact, they're definitely a team on the rise.


Pittsburgh Steelers

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    The Pittsburgh Steelers have long been one of the NFL's model franchises, and as long as quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and head coach Mike Tomlin are employed, they're a threat to contend for the postseason.

    But the Steelers just don't have the horses on offense or defense to make serious noise in 2013.

    There are major question marks along the offensive line and on an aging defensive unit, and these deficiencies will eventually cost the team dearly as they seek to return to the playoffs.

    The Steelers aren't as good as the Ravens or Bengals. Sell the hype.


Houston Texans

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    The Houston Texans are coming off back-to-back AFC South championships and consecutive trips to the divisional round of the postseason, but this won't be the year the team breaks through.

    While the team has one of the best players in football in defensive lineman J.J. Watt and other significant talent throughout the roster, they will ultimately be held back by quarterback Matt Schaub and head coach Gary Kubiak, who you just can't trust against the better quarterback/coach combinations in the AFC.

    The Texans will win the AFC South yet again. But, if you're a Texans fan, I'd hold off on booking my hotel room in New York come February.


Indianapolis Colts

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    2012 was a magical season for the Indianapolis Colts, as rookie quarterback sensation Andrew Luck led the team to an 11-5 record and an unlikely berth in the postseason.

    While Luck looks to continue his ascent into the stratosphere of excellent quarterback play, the Colts will regress in 2013.

    There are questions along the offensive line, and the pass rush won't be as consistent as coach Chuck Pagano needs it to be.

    The Colts could actually end up being better in 2013 than they were in 2012, but their record won't indicate it. 


Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Jaguars fans: Want to see a picture that will keep you awake at night more than the scariest horror movie ever? See above. The quarterbacking duo of Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne put Freddy Krueger and Jason Vorhees to shame.

    While new head coach Gus Bradley and general manager David Caldwell have the Jaguars on the path to respectability, it won't come in 2013. Either Gabbert or Henne will make sure of that.

    Jacksonville supporters should have confidence in the new regime, but the team will be among the worst in football in 2013.


Tennessee Titans

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    When it comes to the Tennessee Titans in 2013, it all hinges on the development and play of third-year quarterback Jake Locker, and no one can say that the team didn't improve the offensive quality around their young signal-caller.

    Tennessee signed guard Andy Levitre and drafted guard Chance Warmack to shore up the interior of what was a very suspect offensive line in 2012. That should make running back Chris Johnson very happy as he seeks to regain his All-Pro form. Plus, the team has a surplus of talented young receivers, including Kendall Wright, Kenny Britt and rookie Justin Hunter.

    But, there are major questions on defense, and problems on that side of the ball could end up costing coach Mike Munchak his job.

    If Locker plays well enough, the problems on defense might not matter. Don't bank on it.


Denver Broncos

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    The Denver Broncos are poised to be the team to beat in the AFC in 2013.

    Quarterback Peyton Manning leads a squad that is desperately looking to wash off the stink of a surprising one-and-done playoff performance in 2012, as the team lost to the eventual Super Bowl champion Ravens at home in the divisional round.

    The roster is loaded, and the team added a new weapon for Manning in receiver Wes Welker. The defense is led by pass-rushing demon Von Miller, who terrorizes opposing quarterbacks and causes sleepless nights for offensive coordinators around the league.

    When it comes to the Broncos being the best team in the AFC, buy the hype.


Kansas City Chiefs

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    The Kansas City Chiefs bottomed out in 2012, finishing with the worst record in football (2-14).

    But, since last season ended, the team has taken significant strides back towards respectability. First, Andy Reid was hired as the new head coach, and John Dorsey as general manager, both representing major steps in the right direction.

    Then the new brain trust traded for quarterback Alex Smith. Say what you want about Smith, but there's no question that he's better than former Chiefs signal-caller Matt Cassel.

    The drafting of Central Michigan tackle Eric Fisher with the first overall pick in the draft will help stabilize the offensive line, and there is talent on both sides of the ball.

    Buy the hype: The Chiefs will contend for a wild-card berth this season.


Oakland Raiders

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    The Oakland Raiders haven't made the playoffs since their appearance in Super Bowl XXXVII, and former quarterback Rich Gannon and head coach Jon Gruden aren't walking through that door.

    The talent just isn't there on either side of the ball. Presumed starting quarterback Matt Flynn didn't exactly dazzle last year in Seattle, being overtaken in training camp by Russell Wilson. Running back Darren McFadden has yet to play a full season without missing games, and the defense is suspect.

    While head coach Dennis Allen and general manager Reggie McKenzie inherited a towering inferno of a roster and salary cap situation, they haven't yet done enough to extinguish the flames licking the franchise. 

    The Raiders will be one of the worst teams in football, just as the hype indicates.


San Diego Chargers

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    With a new head coach (Mike McCoy) and general manager (Tom Telesco) running the show in San Diego, optimism abounds.

    But there are serious question marks on both sides of the ball for the Chargers. For starters, can the offensive line protect quarterback Philip Rivers, as he seeks to regain his All-Pro form? Can the defense generate enough of a pass rush to keep teams off the scoreboard?

    While the Chargers had a fantastic NFL draft that netted them at least three potential studs (tackle D.J. Fluker, linebacker Manti Te'o and receiver Keenan Allen), there isn't enough quality on the roster to sustain a playoff run in 2013.

    Because of that, I'm selling the hype on positive vibes in San Diego.


Dallas Cowboys

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    While quarterback Tony Romo is bullish about his team's chances in 2013, his optimism is largely unfounded.

    The Cowboys do have talented players on both sides of the ball, but the primary bugaboo is the offensive line, which failed to protect Romo last season and ultimately kept the team out of the postseason.

    And then there's the matter regarding the play-calling, with owner Jerry Jones emasculating coach Jason Garrett by stripping him of the duties and handing them to new offensive coordinator Bill Callahan, who hasn't called plays in the NFL in about a decade.

    All of this is a recipe for failure in Big D. The Cowboys won't make the playoffs in 2013.


New York Giants

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    After winning Super Bowl XLVI in 2011, the New York Giants missed the playoffs in 2012, mostly thanks to their disappearing pass rush and leaky offensive line.

    Big Blue upgraded the offensive line with their first-round selection of Syracuse's Justin Pugh, who will contribute right away. Plus, the team's drafting of Texas A&M pass-rusher Damontre Moore in the third round was an inspired selection.

    There are definitely issues on the defensive side of the ball, most notably at linebacker, which appears to be a barren wasteland that would rival the Sahara Desert. Plus, star defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul is coming off back surgery, a disconcerting fact.

    But head coach Tom Coughlin and quarterback Eli Manning are still running the show, and the talent is good enough around them to succeed in 2013. 

    The Giants will bounce back and win the NFC East.


Philadelphia Eagles

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    New Eagles coach Chip Kelly, he of the bountiful spread-option offensive attack while at the University of Oregon, has fans and pundits wondering what the team will look like in 2013.

    Philadelphia has enough pieces to contend for a wild-card berth in 2013. Running back LeSean McCoy is a star, and DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin are terrific receivers. While quarterback Michael Vick has shown an inability to stay healthy, you get the impression that Kelly will be able to fashion a competent offense whether it's Vick or second-year player Nick Foles under center.

    It's the defense that causes concern, specifically in the secondary, which served as one of the team's major undoings in a disappointing 4-12 finish in 2012.

    No one is expecting a Super Bowl season from the Eagles. With that said, they will surprise in 2013 and be in the mix for a wild-card berth in the NFC.


Washington Redskins

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    The Washington Redskins had a magical 2012 season, as rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III helped rejuvenate the franchise, leading them to their first NFC East title since 1999.

    While things soured in the wild-card round of the playoffs, with Griffin tearing an ACL and the team losing to Seattle, there is reason for optimism in our nation's capital.

    The Redskins are getting back pass-rusher Brian Orakpo and defensive lineman Adam Carriker from injury, and both will inject playmaking ability on defense. 

    Head coach Mike Shanahan and his son, offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, will orchestrate an up-tempo offensive attack.

    With Griffin looking likely to start Week 1, all the pieces are in place for another Redskins revival. The hype is real.


Chicago Bears

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    Despite finishing with a 10-6 record last season, the Bears missed the postseason, and it cost former head coach Lovie Smith his job.

    Enter new coach Marc Trestman, charged with the assignment of elevating the play of quarterback Jay Cutler to an elite level.

    Cutler and receiver Brandon Marshall form a devastating combination in the aerial attack, and running back Matt Forte is a star. The offensive line still has question marks, but the signing of left tackle Jermon Bushrod should help.

    The defense will be without linebacker Brian Urlacher (retirement) for the first time since 2000, but new coordinator Mel Tucker will have the unit humming.

    Expectations are high for the Bears, and with good reason: Chicago will qualify for the postseason with a wild-card berth in 2013.


Detroit Lions

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    The Detroit Lions stumbled to a 4-12 mark in 2012, failing to restore the roar from their 10-6 playoff campaign in 2011.

    Now coach Jim Schwartz is on the hot seat, needing a respectable season in order to keep his job. In order to do that, his team must have more balance on offense and a better showing on defense.

    There is no way the Lions can contend if quarterback Matthew Stafford attempts 727 passes his season, and while there is talent on the defensive line, the rest of the unit is suspect.

    The Lions appear ticketed for another last-place finish in the NFC North.


Green Bay Packers

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    The Green Bay Packers won their second consecutive NFC North title last season and ended up bowing out in the second round of the playoffs in San Francisco.

    This year, the Packers are poised to once again win the division and challenge for a berth in the Super Bowl. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers is the single-best player in football, and head coach Mike McCarthy has the knowledge and wherewithal to guide his team deep into January.

    Green Bay is definitely the best team in the NFC North. Buy the hype all day long on any team quarterbacked by the maestro known as Rodgers.


Minnesota Vikings

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    Running back Adrian Peterson led the Vikings on an improbable run to the postseason in 2012, galloping for over 2,000 yards in the process.

    But don't expect the Vikings to make a return trip to the tournament in 2013. 

    Quarterback Christian Ponder still has improving to do. Yes, he was stellar down the stretch of last season, particularly in late-season wins in Houston and against the Packers. But he needs to be more consistent if the Vikings are to become a perennial contender.

    When it comes down to it, sell the hype on the Vikings, mostly because they're the third-best team in their own division, behind the Packers and Bears.


Atlanta Falcons

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    The Atlanta Falcons came within a few yards of a berth in Super Bowl XLVII, losing an absolute heart-breaker in the NFC title game against San Francisco.

    The good news for Falcons fans is that your team will once again be excellent. Quarterback Matt Ryan is a star, and he's surrounded by oodles of talent on offense, especially at receiver with Roddy White and Julio Jones.

    Defensive end Osi Umenyiora was signed to bolster the pass rush, and coordinator Mike Nolan is among the best in football.

    Head coach Mike Smith will have the team back in the playoffs once again as NFC South champions. The hype is that the Falcons will be one of the best teams in the NFC. The hype is accurate.


Carolina Panthers

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    The Panthers had a disappointing 2012 season, finishing 7-9 and once again missing the playoffs. Despite that, head coach Ron Rivera was retained by new general manager Dave Gettleman, and the Panthers will need to win in 2013 to save Rivera's job.

    Quarterback Cam Newton is a phenomenal talent who will only get better, but there isn't a lot of talent around him. Receiver Steve Smith is a star, but aside from him, Newton doesn't have many weapons to work with.

    On defense, the team is hoping that first-round pick, defensive tackle Star Lotulelei, can make an impact. There are some pieces on defense, but will they be enough to stop the high-powered offenses of the NFC South?

    The hype says the Panthers, behind Newton, could challenge in 2013. Don't buy it.


New Orleans Saints

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    Last season, the New Orleans Saints struggled without their head coach, Sean Payton, suspended for the entire season for his role in the Bountygate fiasco.

    This season, Payton will be back on the Saints sideline, a major boon for the club as they seek to return to the postseason.

    Quarterback Drew Brees serves as the trigger man for the Saints explosive offense, but it's the defense that causes concern, coming off a season in which the unit was historically awful.

    Payton will help, but the defense is too much of an albatross for the hype to be realized.


Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    The Tampa Bay Buccaneers greatly improved their lot this offseason, as general manager Mark Dominik spent wisely and engineered one outstanding trade to put the team on the cusp of the postseason.

    The secondary, a major weakness in 2012, is now a strength, with the team having traded for All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis, along with signing safety Dashon Goldson and drafting cornerback Johnthan Banks.

    Quarterback Josh Freeman is surrounded with weapons, chief among them running back Doug Martin and receiver Vincent Jackson, and if Freeman can improve his game, the Bucs will be in the mix for a wild-card berth in the NFC.

    Tampa Bay will be the second-best team in the NFC South behind the Falcons. The hype surrounding the Bucs is legitimate.


Arizona Cardinals

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    Last season, the Arizona Cardinals trotted out the worst quarterbacking trio in the history of organized football, as the pu-pu platter of Kevin Kolb, John Skelton and Ryan Lindley combined for 11 touchdown passes and 21 interceptions. 

    Enter new head coach Bruce Arians and quarterback Carson Palmer, who promise to make the offense better in 2013. Given how poor the unit was in 2012, that's not saying much, but hey, Cardinals fans need to hold onto something, right?

    The offensive line is still poor, despite the drafting of guard Jonathan Cooper in the first round of this past April's draft. While there is talent on defense, Palmer is no longer a viable starting quarterback in the NFL.

    The hype says the Cardinals will be bad. That hype is accurate.


St. Louis Rams

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    The St. Louis Rams, despite their 7-8-1 record in 2012, went 4-1-1 against the NFC West, a notable statistic given how prolific San Francisco and Seattle were a season ago.

    The drafting of wide receiver Tavon Austin was huge, as quarterback Sam Bradford has the most talent surrounding him since he entered the league in 2010. Bradford's development will be crucial to the Rams success (or lack thereof) in 2013.

    The defense is solid, and head coach Jeff Fisher is fantastic at his job.

    St. Louis is in the unfortunate position of being in the same division as the 49ers and Seahawks, but the team proved last season that they're capable of contending. Buy the hype.


San Francisco 49ers

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    The San Francisco 49ers came within yards of winning Super Bowl XLVII, and the roster is absolutely loaded as they try to return to the big game in 2013.

    Quarterback Colin Kaepernick was a revelation last season, using his arm and legs with equal aplomb. New receiver Anquan Boldin should help account for the torn Achilles suffered by star wideout Michael Crabtree, which could force him to miss the season.

    Plus, the defense is stacked, led by pass-rusher Aldon Smith and All-Pro linebacker Patrick Willis.

    The hype says the 49ers could be the very best team in football. It's hard to argue against that logic.


Seattle Seahawks

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    The Seattle Seahawks enjoyed a stunning 2012 campaign that saw them come within moments of reaching the NFC Championship game, buoyed by the outstanding performance of rookie quarterback Russell Wilson.

    Wilson and the Seahawks offense promises to be even better in 2013, with the addition of wide receiver Percy Harvin looming large.

    General manager John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll addressed the pass rush in free agency, signing defensive ends Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett.

    The hype machine is trumpeting the Seahawks, and with good reason. Wilson is a special player, and he alone makes the hype real.