The 2010 NFL season is almost upon us, so you know what that means.
It’s time for some predictions.
This year we’ll see some once great teams fall from grace, and some recent basement-dwellers starting to show signs of life.
It will be full of drama, excitement, and of course…'round the clock news about Brett Favre.
Let’s get started.
Entering his third season, Tony Sparano has the Dolphins poised for another run at the playoffs.
The addition of Brandon Marshall should do wonders for quarterback Chad Henne, while Karlos Dansby was an excellent offseason signing for Miami‘s defense.
Speaking of defense, mastermind defensive coordinator Mike Nolan was quickly scooped up after things fell out of favor in Denver. Then, Miami used seven of its eight picks to select defensive players during the draft.
The Dolphins boast one of the best offensive lines in the NFL led by linchpin left tackle Jake Long. With Ronnie Brown back healthy, look for Miami to once again display a dominant running game .
With a sound rushing attack, the addition of a true No. 1 wide receiver, and an almost guaranteed improvement on defense, Miami is ready to compete for the top of the AFC East.
As the Patriots usher in their shiny new draft class, there are still some uncertainties surrounding the team.
Is Wes Welker fully recovered from his knee injury? Is there enough of a running game to keep opposing defenses honest?
All questions aside, New England still has Tom Brady, they still have Randy Moss, and Bill Belichick is still patrolling the sidelines. With a slew of draft picks ready to contribute immediately, the Patriots will neither take a step forward, nor a step back.
In a tough division, they’ll finish with the same record as last year and still make the playoffs.
Walking into the perfect situation for a rookie quarterback, Mark Sanchez put up less than stellar stats on a team with a great rushing offense and a solid defense.
Although it’s expected that a rookie QB will experience some growing pains, 20 interceptions and 10 fumbles, (three lost) to go along with a QB rating of 63 is enough to dispel any thoughts of a Super Bowl appearance this season.
The aforementioned ground game and defense is the lifeblood of the team, so if either one isn’t up to par, it could wind up being a hard knock season for the Jets.
Unless the Darrelle Revis contract dispute is ironed out, the Jets will be third-fiddle in the AFC East this year.
Despite substandard quarterback play for years, Buffalo decided to stick with both Trent Edwards and Ryan Fitzpatrick for the 2010 season.
Why, who knows?
First-year head coach Chan Gailey has a lot on his plate with an offensive line that gave up the fifth-most sacks in the league a year ago. With second-year G/C Eric Wood returning from a devastating leg injury, things should get a little bit better in this department, but don‘t get your hopes up.
The Bills did have a seemingly solid draft, but C.J. Spiller won’t be able to do it alone.
Until Buffalo does something about its QB situation, everything will be an uphill battle.
As the Bengals enter 2010, they look to continue the transition towards being more of a running team under head coach Marvin Lewis.
Some folks think that the addition of Terrell Owens will be a distraction, but in the grand scheme of things, he’s an angel compared to some of the players on Cincinnati’s roster.
He might actually be a positive influence.
Going beyond that, the Bengals still bolster a top-ten rushing offense and a top-five defense from a year ago. Carson Palmer will look to improve upon what was an off year for him, while Cincinnati’s dominant young defense continues to grow together.
Look for them to repeat as AFC North champions.
Acquiring Anquan Boldin was a solid move for the Ravens, especially since it was a position overlooked for so long.
Adding him to an ever-improving offense will be beneficial towards the growth of quarterback Joe Flacco, and towards putting even more points on the board.
Losing Dominique Foxworth for the season was a huge blow to an already diminished secondary, and while the trade for Josh Wilson will help, it’s going to be a long year for Baltimore’s pass-defense. Now that Ed Reed is going to miss at least the first six games of the season, someone in the defensive backfield needs to step up.
For what is probably the first time in Baltimore’s existence, the team will rely on the offense to win games.
The Ravens should still make the playoffs, but like last year, as a wild card.
The Browns have finally put together what looks to be a competent front office obtaining Mike Holmgren.
He swiftly retooled Cleveland’s management with football people who have experience, yet kept Eric Mangini and his entire staff which was a surprise to most.
Brady Quinn and Derek Anderson are out; Jake Delhomme and Seneca Wallace are in. Neither one is the future, but both bring a wealth of knowledge to a young group of wide receivers.
Starting with All-Pro left tackle Joe Thomas, Cleveland actually boasts a very youthful and formidable offensive line. They were able to pave the way for the eighth best rushing attack last year despite playing with the worst QB circumstances in the NFL.
With plenty of much-need veteran experience, an improved secondary and a stabilized quarterback position, the Browns should improve upon what began at the end of last season.
Whenever a team is mired in controversy, things never seem to go according to plan.
Losing Willie Colon and Santonio Holmes is going to be painful for the offense, especially right out of the gate playing without Ben Roethlisberger.
There is still no word on whom the starting quarterback will be, which by the way is between Charlie Batch and Dennis Dixon. Not exactly a ringing endorsement, is it? The first four games will be crucial for the Steelers heading into their bye week.
With a depleted offensive line, an aging defense, and a terrible quarterback situation to start the season, Pittsburgh is barely holding their heads above the water.
Unless the team pulls it together, they’re going to drown.
What is there really to say at this point? The same old quarterback, in the same old system, will yield the same old results.
Jim Caldwell is a pretty lucky guy, isn’t he?
Bob Sanders is coming back to a defense that needs him as they were poorly ranked last season against the run.
The only thing that can bring down the Colts is if something terrible occurs to Peyton Manning. Since it hasn’t happened yet, look for Indianapolis to repeat as not only AFC South champions, but probably AFC Champions as well.
After putting together one of the most potent offenses in the league, this might be coach Gary Kubiak’s last chance to prove that he’s the right man for the job.
The Texans have been teetering along the .500 mark for three straight seasons, so it’s put up or shut up time.
With Pro Bowl talent at more than a few positions, the time is now for the Texans to make a serious postseason push. The loss of Ben Tate will be felt throughout the season, but there’s enough on offense to more than make up for it.
The city of Houston can finally take a deep breath of satisfaction as the Texans will finally get the playoff monkey off its back.
The Titans have Chris Johnson—the most exciting player in football. The problem is there’s not much else to go along with it.
Tennessee did little to upgrade in the offseason and had a very quiet draft. Handing the reigns over to much-maligned quarterback Vince Young is a risky move no matter which way you slice it.
Along with the Texans, Tennessee is up against the most difficult schedule in the NFL, (based on opponent’s 2009 record) so it’s going to be a very bumpy road.
The overall roster needs some upgrades and is decent, but there isn’t enough talent to pull the Titans from the ranks of mediocrity.
The Jaguars don’t have too much going for them other than Maurice Jones-Drew.
David Garrard’s play has been sketchy of late and Jack Del Rio is on the hot seat.
With the biggest reach in the draft, Jacksonville selected defensive tackle Tyson Alualu at pick No. 10. This was the main headline for the Jaguars…not good.
Having one of the worst secondaries in the NFL a year ago, the Jags did little to improve this dreadful area of the defense.
Expect more of the same problems in 2010.
When looking at the Chargers, it’s easy to see a team built for the regular season. The playoffs, however, has been another story.
With one of the worst rushing offenses in the league last year, San Diego’s passing game more than picked up the slack. The addition of Ryan Mathews should help spark an overall weary running game.
The Vincent Jackson saga is still pending, but other than that the Chargers have enough talent on both sides of the ball to compensate for his potential departure.
Playing in what again looks to be one of the weakest divisions in all of football, expect the Chargers to five-peat as AFC West champions.
Surprise, surprise. Kansas City is about to make a quantum leap within the division.
Able to get both Charlie Weis and Romeo Crennel, the Chiefs finally have a seasoned coaching staff to go along with a qualified front office.
With both Jamaal Charles and Dexter McCluster on the field at the same time, Kansas City could now have one of the fastest all-around offenses in the NFL. Pairing safety Eric Berry with cornerback Brandon Flowers will give the Chiefs long-term stability in the secondary.
Although some problems still exist along the offensive and defensive lines, Kansas City had a very promising offseason and look to improve upon what Todd Haley started.
The way Denver started last year, it looked like Josh McDaniels had this head coaching thing figured out.
Then they lost eight of their last 10 games culminating in a blowout loss at home against Kansas City to close out the season.
The Broncos decided to trade running back Peyton Hillis and future draft picks for Brady Quinn. Initial indications are that Cleveland received the better end of the deal as Quinn looks to be the third-string quarterback in Denver.
Elvis Dumervil’s injury is going to be devastating especially when the next highest sack total last year belonged to Vonnie Holliday with five.
With a draft class that leaves little to be desired, unfortunate injuries and questionable offseason moves, look for Denver to struggle in 2010.
Last year, the Raiders were blown out frequently and were barely in most of their losses.
In their five wins, Oakland’s highest point differential was only four points. There’s a very real possibility that this squad could have gone 0-16.
Oakland also had the second-worst scoring offense in 2009, so something had to be done.
Al Davis finally acquired a quarterback that seems to know what he’s doing in Jason Campbell, and early indications are that Oakland may have had a decent draft for once. The problem is, past draft failures have crippled the team beyond belief.
Although things are beginning to look up with Al Davis taking a backseat, there’s still far too many holes throughout the roster for Oakland to be competitive in 2010.
Dallas is looking to bounce back from its terrible playoff performance against Minnesota as Wade Philips is entering a potential make-or-break year.
Not much work was done to the roster during the offseason, so it appears Dallas is content with what they’ve got…which is still pretty good.
The Cowboys’ skill positions are the envy of most in the NFL as there is obvious talent from the starters all the way down to the backups.
The Cowboys are the lucky recipients of the third most difficult schedule in the NFL, so it’s not going to be easy. Although the NFC East isn’t what it used to be, Dallas is still the cream of the crop and are poised to repeat as division champs.
Out with the old and in with the new is what’s going on in Philadelphia.
The Eagles parted ways with longtime players Donovan McNabb, Brian Westbrook, and Sheldon Brown as they’re welcoming in a very large draft class complete with plenty of trades and offseason moves.
The Eagles may very well have the brightest future of any team in the NFL right now with a roster that is bubbling over with young talent. Although, to take two steps forward, Philadelphia will have to take one step back this year.
Kevin Kolb needs to get his feet wet after all.
After this season, though…the sky’s the limit.
Being able to get Mike Shanahan to take care of the team, Daniel Snyder looks like he might be relinquishing some unneeded football responsibilities.
This is a good thing.
Not much was able to be done in the draft, but Donovan McNabb will help solidify Washington’s passing game as they transition towards being a run-first team. Drafting Trent Williams will go a long way towards making sure this happens.
Ultimately, it’s going to take time for Mike Shanahan to implement his system and purge the roster, so don’t expect too much this season, but look for an improvement nonetheless.
Starting last season 5-0, the Giants were looking poised to make a playoff run but a slew of injuries derailed all hope as they went 3-8 down the stretch.
If things don’t go well from the start, Tom Coughlin could find himself fighting for his job.
New York still has a great receiving corps, as well as a solid defensive line, but the overall roster is beginning to show signs of brittleness and a lack of elite talent.
With often-injured running backs, an aging offensive line, and question marks at linebacker, the New York Giants just simply aren’t the team they used to be.
Let’s be honest here. Green Bay has a dynamite, high-flying offense to go along with a young, fierce defense.
The only major offseason loss for the Packers was defensive end Aaron Kampman. The team was busy in free agency though, as they re-signed a large cluster of their own players which will garner stability and continuity going forward.
Aaron Rodgers is now being mentioned in the same breath as some current elite quarterbacks, so it should be interesting to see if he takes that next step.
If the Packers take care of their quarterback protection problems, there’s a chance they could be playing for the Super Bowl in 2010.
Brett Favre’s back, and you’re gonna be in trouble. Hey la! Hey la! Brett Favre’s back!
Can his ankle hold up? This seems to be the biggest question as Minnesota gears toward its 2010 campaign.
Without Favre, the Vikings still boast a dominant defensive line and one of the best rushing attacks in football, so all will not be lost if he can’t finish out the season. The loss of Sidney Rice coupled with the constant migraines of Percy Harvin is worrisome to say the least.
As a cloud of doubt surrounds the future of Minnesota’s quarterback position, things might get a little worse this year, but still not very bad at all. Expect another playoff appearance.
How about this? Detroit might just climb out of the basement.
Now featuring a home run threat in running back Jahvid Best, the Lions’ offense is starting to look pretty formidable. As Matthew Stafford enters his sophomore season, the key to his continued progression ultimately lies in the hands of the offensive line.
Detroit’s defensive line received a complete makeover as it now has become potentially dominant all in one offseason. The loss of Ernie Sims will sting, but the additions of Ndamukong Suh, Kyle Vanden Bosch, and Corey Williams will provide plenty of relief.
Look out for Detroit. They could be one of those teams that jumps up and bites the unsuspecting.
The good news: Mike Martz was brought in to help Chicago’s sputtering offense.
The bad news: There is no Kurt Warner, Marshall Faulk, Orlando Pace, Isaac Bruce, or Torry Holt anywhere on the team.
Well, they had Orlando Pace anyway.
The Bears had what barely qualifies as a draft class which did little to constitute the overpayment of Julius Peppers. Brian Urlacher is dinged up again and the offensive line leaves little to be desired.
With question marks surrounding the wide receivers and restlessness about the running backs, Chicago fans need to brace themselves for a potentially lackluster season.
After winning the Super Bowl, the Cinderella story is over, and the target is now on their back.
The problem is, there’s not many other teams capable of hitting that target. Drew Brees however, is able to hit practically any target he wants to. He’ll continue to spread the ball around, but people often lose sight of the fact that New Orleans also had the sixth most rushing yards in 2009.
The Saints lost a few players here and there on defense, but not enough to make a significant impact.
With a high-powered offense to go along with an opportunistic defense, the Saints will continue their winning ways as they are undoubtedly the best team in the NFC South…and probably the whole NFC.
After a slight letdown and some injury issues in 2009, Atlanta is looking to get back on track in coach Mike Smith’s third year.
The Falcons still have fantastic weapons at every skill position on offense, which should be a sign of good things to come for quarterback Matt Ryan. After an ankle injury sidelined Ryan for the better part of three games last year, he looks to bounce back and get back to the way he played in 2008.
There was a plan to bolster the defense, so Atlanta drafted speedy linebacker Sean Weatherspoon in the first round who looks to make an impact right away.
Everyone is healthy, and with plenty of talent on a well-rounded offense, the Falcons should make it back to the playoffs after a one-year hiatus.
The Panthers decided to part ways with Jake Delhomme, so Matt Moore is now the man in charge of leading the offense.
Strangely after that, Carolina decided to spend a second round draft pick on Jimmy Clausen, so there could be a quarterback controversy brewing in Carolina…especially if Moore doesn’t impress early on.
The Panthers finally decided to cut Julius Peppers loose, so they’re losing quite a bit in the pass-rushing department. It should be interesting to see what the defense looks like without the Pro Bowl defensive end, so keep an eye to see if Carolina can get to the quarterback.
Although, with one of the most powerful rushing attacks in the NFL, the Panthers should still be able to control the clock and be competitive in most of their games this season.
Not much is going well for the Buccaneers right now.
Second-year QB Josh Freeman broke the tip of his thumb missing half of the preseason and cornerback Aquib Talib is suspended for the season-opener.
There are glaring question marks at every skill-position on offense, and a very young defensive line will most likely take some time to develop.
With an obvious lack of talent and a change in their defensive scheme, the Buccaneers will probably only squeak out a couple of wins this year.
Here it is...the surprise team in the NFL this year is the 49ers.
A year removed from an 8-8 record, San Francisco is ready to make huge strides towards being mentioned as one of the elite teams in the NFC.
The front office orchestrated a very solid draft for Mike Singletary. Even sixth round draft choice Anthony Dixon looks like he could be a steal.
Former No. 1 overall pick Alex Smith is starting to turn the corner…and at just the right time too, because the team around him is peaking. With young talent at RB, WR, and TE, there are plenty of weapons at Smith’s disposal.
As for the defense, the 49ers have one of the best linebacker units in the league, while the secondary is going to be a work in progress.
Playing in what looks to be one of the weaker divisions in the NFL this season, San Francisco is ready to rise to the top.
Breaking up is hard to do, and saying goodbye is even harder.
Farewell, Kurt Warner…it was a good run.
Arizona has recently decided to part ways with Matt Leinart after a few tumultuous seasons in the desert, and are now looking at Derek Anderson to lead the team in 2010.
This isn’t necessarily the best idea considering he had the worst passer rating in the NFL last year. Rookie Max Hall has played well so far and is in the discussion of being Arizona’s possible future signal-caller.
The losses of Anquan Boldin, Karlos Dansby, Antrel Rolle, and Bryant McFadden will be felt throughout the season.
With very little experience right now at quarterback, Arizona will probably go through a tough transition period, but they’re still good enough to finish second in the division.
After a short stint in the NFL over a decade ago, and a much-ballyhooed stint at USC, Pete Carroll is getting back into the swing of things in Seattle.
He started off with a great first round of the NFL draft picking up two players in Russell Okung and Earl Thomas who will start right away.
After giving up a lot to acquire Charlie Whitehurst, it appears that Matt Hasselbeck is still the starter at quarterback for the Seahawks. There’s some stability and continuity for the offense, but Hasselbeck is merely a bridge towards the next quarterback.
After many trades, roster moves and new starters via the draft, Seattle is going through a complete rebuild so don’t expect much from them just yet. The future however, looks to be much brighter.
You’ve probably seen articles similar to this, and if they go in basic chronological order, AFC to NFC, division by division, then chances are the Rams are constantly the last team you see.
There’s a reason for that.
Head coach Steve Spagnuolo has decided to throw No. 1 overall pick Sam Bradford to the wolves. Depending on your viewpoint, this is either a much-needed move, or a serious mistake.
With a wide receiver corps already devoid of talent, the Rams lost Donnie Avery for the season with a torn ACL, so that‘s one less weapon for Bradford.
We’ll see what’s in store down the line, but right now the scenario looks bleak.
There you have it.
With a slight changing of the guard, a few once great teams are headed for obscurity, while some of the recently deficient teams will start to show some signs of life.
The Wildcat offense will most likely play a bigger role this season, but at the same time, expect huge record-breaking passing statistics once again.
As far as the looming 2011 work stoppage goes, let's all just hope that both sides can get a fair deal worked out...because without the NFL, what would we do on Sundays?