With the NFL Hall of Fame game just 36 days away, every team is feeling that same type of discomfort you feel right before you plummet down a 15 story drop at an amusement park: how is this one going to turn out? What if (insert starting quarterback's name here) gets hurt in the pre-season? Is the defense going to do ok? Will the offense work out? Will we go 16-0 again?
These questions are hanging around every single head coach, GM, staff member, and player as schemes are just getting finished as mentalities are getting straightened.
The goal of every team is to get to the playoffs and win the Super Bowl but only 6 of 16 AFC teams will grace the post-season. The following is an analysis of why? and why not's? for each teams glimmer of hopes.
Why they will make the post-season: fairly easy schedule, LT, a power-house defense, and many starters returning.
Comments: will Phillip Rivers go one season without doing or saying anything stupid?
Why they will make the post-season: good coaching staff, bearable schedule, and talent spread out all over the place.
Why they will fail: they are not a consistent team, the Chiefs rely on the running game just a hair too much and none of the quarterbacks are exceptional at any rate.
Comments: will Herm Edwards keep his record of never losing to the Chargers twice in one season?
Why they will make the post-season: team effort exists and defense looks stable enough to handle the tough AFC.
Why they will fail: talent is laking and the Broncos need a tailback who can answer the call and lead the team (that's not very likely). Also, Champ is getting old.
Comments: will you please beat the Chargers and provide decent competition in this division?
Why they will make the post-season: talent, talent, and talent. Russell, Jordan McFadden, Hall, and a few other big names have potential to be a power-house.
Why they will fail: Al Davis, tough schedule for young squad, bad luck, loss of Sapp, and a lot of criticism will be inflicted.
Comments: (see above)
Why they will make the post-season: Polamalu is 100% and Willie Parker will do just fine since getting injured. Maturing players, a great draft class, and coaching staff is a bonus.
Why they will fail: tough division, tough schedule, not much room for injury, other minor details.
Comments: "will Anthony Smith please step forward. Shut up and never say anything besides 'I am thrilled to be here' at a press conference."
Why they will make the post-season: momentum, talent, a great offense, a growing defense that can only get better, and an excellent coaching staff.
Why they will fail: karma! Ok, real reason, the losses from 2007 only occurred when the team couldn't play together. If everyone can anticipate and be on the same page on every down, division title is possible.
Comments: why does Brady Quinn get more interviews and air time than anyone else on that team? (this I already know but, moving right along...)
Why they will make the post-season: if Troy Smith gets the starting spot, he'll blow everyone out of the water. Defense may be getting old but talented backups are in reserves.
Why they will fail: young squad on offense, Jonathan Ogden leaving will cause the o to have a tough time, schemes have yet to be learned with brand new coach, teamwork is falling apart at the seams.
Comments: Boller, Flacco, and Smith; which one? Which one?
Why they will make the post-season: Ocho-Cinco is back and ready to play. Also, a few additions to both sides of the ball will make this team a lot better than last.
Why they will fail: talent is there but passion and teamwork aren't. If Marvin Lewis can get his team to play aggressive smash-mouth football, an AFC North title is not unimaginable.
Why they will make the post-season: hall of fame coach, quarterback, go-to-guy, and various defensive players. Can't get much better than this. Also, getting embarrassed by a crummy team provides momentum and fuels the fire.
Why they will fail: key losses will hurt the team and only one team in the last 10 years has made the post-season after losing the Super Bowl. The Patriots will also be the biggest game of the year for all their opponents.
Comments: 16-0 again? not happening.
Why they will make the post-season: decent team that made some good choices in the draft and has talent and ability at the seams.
Why they will fail: the division they are in is a tough one! The rest of the schedule is also pretty difficult. Being a flat out crummy team doesn't help either.
Comments: the Bills just lack motivation. If they get themselves a real franchise player, I'd hop on this bandwagon.
Why they will make the post-season: the system of Eric Mangini is still being put together for perfection. There is talent on the roster and if the players are willing to work together, they could make a run for it.
Why they will fail: as long as they sit on the sidelines every game drooling, not much will change from last year. Team's stability just isn't there yet.
Comments: what will you accuse the Patriots of this year?
Why they will make the post-season: Everything is brand-new. You can't even compare this years team to last year's.
Why they will fail: (see above)
Comments: why the Walsh did you let Jason Taylor off so quickly?!
Why they will make the post-season: too much talent and since this might be Dungy and Harrison's last year, it will be an emotional campaign.
Why they will fail: tough schedule and equally tough division will be a simple obstacle to overcome with this all-star team.
Comments: why should we even vote for the Pro Bowl? Just send the the whole Colts team to Hawaii.
Why they will make the post-season: this is a high powered team that will be driven by Garrard and co. Excellent coaching staff and amazing team will give Colts a lot of competition.
Why they will fail: Like the Colts, tough division and cruel schedule will be in way of Tampa Bay march.
Comments: just send the Jags roster to be the backups.
Why they will make the post-season: Vince Young is looking to be better than last year and running game just might have a breakout year.
Why they will fail: the defense has to step up to the Colts, Jags and other tough opponent's. Hard schedule is always a factor in this division.
Comments: whatever you do, don't get arrested...
Why they will make the post-season: the Texans are a good team believe it or not. They have good players and great coaches. If Matt Schaub can get a good game on, the Colts, Jags, and Titans better watch their backs.
Why they will fail: they are a good team in a division that offers great teams. If the Texans can't keeps the playoff race close, go ahead and count them out.
Comments: get some players from the Texans on your fantasy team. Though Houston might not shock the fantasy world, Andre Johnson just might be a sleeper this year.