2011 NFL Predictions: 6 Teams That Are Over-Rated
Every year, we get way too excited about certain teams' prospects for the upcoming season. There are six such teams that stand out for the 2011 season.
That's not to say that some of these teams won't be good. On the contrary, there are a few teams on this list that I believe will make the playoffs.
But the kind of hype they are getting—"Best cornerback group in history," as one analyst said about a team on this list—is going to be way too much for them to live up to.
To steal a line from Larry David, let's curb our enthusiasm on these squads.
An NFL analyst from ESPN called the newly formed cornerback trio of the Philadelphia Eagles the best in history.
Really? Can we really give them that kind of praise already?
Asante Samuel is a No. 1 on any team that doesn't include Darrelle Revis or his new teammate Nnamdi Asomugha. The Kevin Kolb trade brought in Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, probably the best No. 3 corner in the league.
While I expect the Samuel-Asomugha-Rodgers-Cromartie trio to be the best in the 2011 NFL season, the kind of hype they're already getting, namely from said analyst, is ridiculous.
Think about it. When you watched the Eagles play last year, did you think, "Man, they're just two bad-ass corners from really being great!" Not me.
Is Philly going to be good? Hell yeah, they are. But they're over-hyped.
San Diego Chargers
A quick Google search of "2011 AFC West predictions" will lead you to dozens of articles strongly favoring the San Diego Chargers to win the division.
Their time as perennial champions of the West came to an end when the upstart Kansas City Chiefs surprised everyone (except for themselves, their fans and me) and won the AFC West last year.
So what has changed since the 2010 season that saw the Chiefs overwhelm the Chargers with their running attack on the first Monday Night Football of the year?
Ryan Mathews is a year older, but he was a huge disappointment in every game but the throw-away finale last year. Antonio Gates is banged up. Long-time defensive coordinator Ron Rivera is gone.
San Diego is getting some undeserved hype for winning the division. It belongs to the Chiefs.
Green Bay Packers
Take a lesson from ESPN's Skip Bayless, and refrain from being a "prisoner of the moment."
The Green Bay Packers were an impressive force last year in the playoffs, blowing teams away with Aaron Rodgers' aerial assault and the defense's suffocating schemes.
But we're too quick to forget that they earned the last seed in the 2010 NFC playoffs by the skin of their teeth. Both the New York Giants and Tampa Bay Buccaneers finished with identical records to the Packers, 10-6, and were just inches away from keeping Green Bay out of the postseason.
I take nothing away from a champion. They were the best last year and Rodgers is going to have a long, successful career. But last year is over, and it's time to examine their repeat potential.
As defending Super Bowl victors they're going to get a ton of hype, which is a mistake considering the facts above.
I'm one of the many who's guilty of over-hyping the Detroit Lions. It's just so easy.
The Lions have a great, young coach in Jim Schwartz. They have a leader of men at quarterback. They have one of the NFL's top wide receivers. They are building their defense the right way.
But it's still too early for this team. The hype they're getting reminds me of the talk around the Arizona Cardinals in the mid-2000s, a few years before they clicked.
Rather than rate them as a potential wild-card team, let's talk about the Lions reaching eight wins for the first time since 2000. Let's talk about whether or not Matthew Stafford's shoulder is going to stay in place for a full season—I fear not.
They're no longer the awful 0-16 team of 2008, but they're also not going to be the Cinderellas of the playoffs that so many are hyping them to be.
When you start just penciling in teams as division champions in the NFL, you're bound to get blindsided. We've reached that point with the Indianapolis Colts.
Peyton Manning, one of the best quarterbacks of all-time, is at the end of his prime; a noticeable drop is imminent. Even the best are mortals.
The severe lack of a running game becomes more and more of a strain on Manning, whose shoulders can't be burdened with an extra load due to his injured neck. The Colts ran for 1,483 yards as a team in 2010. That puts a ton of responsibility on Manning's ability to make stars out of guys like Austin Collie and Blair White.
Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis are the only redeeming features on an otherwise subpar defense.
Between the Houston Texans and Jacksonville Jaguars, the aging Colts are going to have more trouble than people think within the division. Their over-ratedness comes from the misconception that the AFC South is already theirs.
New York Jets
The prototype for an over-rated team is the New York Jets. From their head coach to their new No. 2 wide receiver, the Jets are getting a ton of press that would rival only their crosstown, cross-sport brother, the New York Yankees.
First of all, what has Rex Ryan done but talk a huge (read, fat) game? New York made it to the AFC Championship game his first year, which was impressive, but last year was an uncapped salary year and the Jets just loaded up on talent.
Any annoying lard could've gotten them to the AFC Championship game.
Is Shonn Greene going to be the kind of running back that Mark Sanchez will need behind him? Both Greene and Sanchez emit a "so-so" vibe for me, which makes me think that neither are able (yet) to take that step.
The Jets' defense is awesome. I'm not going to take anything away from them. I would, however, like to note that stalwart defensive end Shaun Ellis is now on the line for the New England Patriots.
As good as the Jets are, they may not even win the AFC East, so all of the huge talk they're getting for the Super Bowl is terribly over-hyped.