The Five Most Overrated Teams Heading Into the 2009 NFL Season
Twitter. Lil' Wayne. Coffee. Uggs. Did I mention Lil' Wayne?
These are just some of the many overrated things in the world. But one that never runs out of short supply is NFL teams going into the season.
Optimism is always high in the off-season but at a certain points, the general public and media make certain teams out to be Super Bowl locks when they are clearly not. In this case, some of the teams aren't even locks to make the playoffs.
So with that said, here are the most overrated teams going into this upcoming season.
5. New England Patriots
Out of all these teams, the Pats are the least overrated (which is why there are No. 5) and are the only one that could realistically win the Super Bowl.
Nevertheless, too many fans and members of the media are making the Patriots out as "THE team to beat".
As far as I am concerned, the Steelers are still the team to beat in the NFL. They are the defending champions, had a solid draft, and didn't lose too many pieces in free agency. For that matter, the Ravens and Titans are more of the team to beat than New England.
I've always been on the Tom Brady bandwagon and think he might be the greatest quarterback of all time, but I think he won't return to Super Brady form until 2010.
2009 is going to be not a typical Brady year and look for him to struggle a little bit more than he usually does, but that comes with returning from a serious injury.
The Patriots running game is a major weakness and while Fred Taylor is a great player, it is unknown if he can be a 1000 yard guy like he was in the past. Laurence Maroney has been injured and/or disappointing recently and Sammy Morris is 32.
Not to mention, the Patriots line isn't really one of the best in the league.
Defensively, the Pats have some good pieces and All-Pros, but their linebacking corps could struggle.
Tedy Bruschi is nearing the end of the line, Adalius Thomas has been a disappointment since leaving Baltimore (typical of defensive players after leaving the Ravens), and Pierre Woods is no Mike Vrabel or Roman Phifer.
I believe that the Patriots will be a very good team next season, but pegging them as the favorite in the NFL or even the AFC is very foolish.
4. Minnesota Vikings (with Brett Favre)
Brett Favre is one of the most overrated human beings in the history of Western civilization (excuse my moment of Bill Walton-ness), so any team associated with him instantly becomes overrated themselves.
As crazy as it sounds, the Vikings much would be better off starting Tarvaris Jackson and working with him as their quarterback of the future.
They are a pretty young team all-around, so they need a guy for the future and Jackson played pretty well after regaining the starting role last season and shows some promise.
Not to mention, this is likely not the same Favre that won three MVPs in a row. The most recent incarnation of the enigma that is Brett Favre led the league in interceptions and lost four of his last five games of the season.
Outside of the quarterback spot, the Vikings have some spots of weakness. They lost Pro-Bowl center Matt Birk who was the leader of a strong offensive line for many years in Minnesota. Also gone is Pro-Bowl safety Darren Sharper who 18 interceptions in 4 seasons with the Vikings.
The stars of the Vikings defense are the two interior tackles, Kevin and Pat Williams, who could potentially be suspended for the first four games of the season for use of a diuretic that can be used as a masking agent for steroids. If they end up suspended, it would be a major blow for Minnesota and it will be hard for them to win their games early.
3. Cincinnati Bengals
First off, let me say that I love Chad Johnson/Ochocinco. I really do. He is a great character and an even greater player.
But what I do not love is that he can talk a lot about how great the Bengals will be in 2009 and it soon gets to be considered fact.
A lot of people have the Bengals as a sleeper pick to make some noise in the AFC. Some even believe that they will even make the playoffs as a Wild Card team.
As with Brady, Palmer is coming off an injury-riddled season and probably won't return to his old, great self until 2010. It doesn't help that one of the best receiver tandems in the NFL has been broken up with T.J. Houshmandzadeh signing with Seattle.
Jerome Simpson and Andre Caldwell are solid young players with bright futures and Laveranues Coles has a little bit left in the tank, but the receiving corps has taken a major hit.
The Bengals had an uncharacteristically great draft in 2009, picking up two first-round defensive prospects in Rey Maualuga and Michael Johnson in the second and third rounds, respectively.
Those players added with young defensive players with a lot of potential such as Keith Rivers and Leon Hall lead to a team that will be good in a year or two.
Operative phrase being "in a year or two". This year, the Bengals will still be...well, the Bengals.
At least they're better the Browns.
2. Dallas Cowboys
There is a frightening trend in sports when a player or team is called underrated so much that they become a little overrated. Ask Ben Wallace about that.
But is there a parallel trend in which a player or team is called overrated so much that they become in fact underrated?
In the case of the Dallas Cowboys...nope. They're still overrated.
It is unfathomable how they are still considered by many to be the favorites in the NFC East. Really?
The Giants are coming off an amazing year where they were without their star defensive end, Osi Umenyiora (who is coming back this season), and just had a great draft. The Eagles were one game away from the Super Bowl and made several moves in the offseason to improve areas of weakness.
Hell, even the Redskins have a lot of good pieces in place and split the season series with Dallas last season.
The Cowboys, on the other hand, lost one of the best receivers in the game (say what you want about him, T.O. is a great player who made the Cowboys better), a key pass-rusher in Chris Canty, and had a pretty weak draft.
Not to mention, their quarterback still has not shown the ability to win a game after November.
1. Chicago Bears
When you make a trade for one player and everyone pegs you as an instant contender and jumps on your bandwagon, you're a little bit overrated.
When that player is possibly the most overrated player in the league, you're the most overrated team going into the 2009 NFL season, the Chicago Bears.
I am not a believer of Jay Cutler in Chicago and here's why:
In Denver, he had a fantastic offensive line and a great receiving corps in Brandon Marshall, Eddie Royal, Brandon Stokley, and Darrell Jackson, as well as two above-average receiving tight ends in Tony Scheffler and Daniel Graham.
In Chiago, he has a decent offensive line, a great tight end in Greg Olsen and his number one receiver, Devin Hester, is a converted conerback/kick returner.
Do you need an example? Jay Cutler's number 3 receiver from last season (Brandon Stokley) had 49 receptions in 2008, while him No. 1 receiver this season (Devin Hester) had 51 receptions in 2008. Now, I think Brandon Stokley is great and all, but that statistic is shocking and shows why Jay Cutler won't be the same Jay Cutler in Chicago.
Now this isn't just all a Jay Cutler bashfest; there are other weaknesses of the Chicago Bears. Namely the defensive line and secondary.
The Bears D-line was a major liability last season and they didn't do much to improve it in the offseason, short of drafting end Henry Melton in the third round.
Nathan Vasher has struggled in 2008 and the departure of Mike Brown has left a major gap at free safety. This is one of the weaker Bears defensive groups in recent years.
So, there you have it, the Chicago Bears are the Lil' Wayne of the 2009 NFL season. Cheers are in order.
I'm not saying that the team is going to be bad (which is what I'm saying for all of these teams...well, maybe not the Bengals) but this one move is not enough to put them over the top, especially when they didn't improve in other areas that they really needed to.