A Jaded Preview Of The 2009 NFL Season

Dr. JadedContributor ISeptember 12, 2009

CHICAGO - AUGUST 22: A referees' penalty flag lies on the field during a pre-season game between the Chicago Bears and the New York Giants on August 22, 2009 at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears defeated the Giants 17-3. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

There are very few things in the world that I still enjoy.  Sure, I’m a sucker for any liquid that contains anything higher than forty proof alcohol and just the mention of the word ‘Vegas’ makes me go from six to midnight quicker than any rumors of an alleged Keeley Hazell homemade adult video.  Sadly, beyond those vices I’m pretty reserved.  That is, until one glorious weekend rolls around brings me back to the glory days of my youth when I actually thought I had enough of a future to warrant being excited over.  It never ceases to amaze me how three letters followed by two words can get me THIS excited.  And no, surprisingly I’m not talking about the annual NRA Membership Drive.  (Wow – that joke might have been even too classless for me – moving on)

I’m talking about NFL Kickoff Weekend.

This weekend manages to encompass everything that the greatest sport in the world (I hate you Soccer, I’m serious; your whole sport needs to die in a grease fire ASAP) needs to be.  It is literally the only time of the year when every fan of any team in the league has a legitimate chance to be excited.  Think about that, can you even imagine the rumblings going around Twitter accounts of fans all over the country right now?  Here are some ideas:

-          @BoooJayCutler: Seriously, Kyle Orton and Eddie Royal are going to be the best pairing since Will & Grace.  Go Broncos!

-          @HardKnocksFan: Cedric Benson is our Neo – he’s the one dammit.  This is the year for Cincinnati vindication.

-          @MattLeinart: Seriously!!!!  Kurt’s like 80.  He has to go down at some point, right?

-          @BensNORapist: No way Tom Brady comes back from that injury even though Moss and Welker are machines.  Bank on it; we’re repeating man.  One for the thumb for that weird guy downtown who has 7 fingers!  It’s coming. 

-          @TheREALTilaTequila:  Anybody still think Chris Brown-Merriman’s gone soft?

The truth is, for the next 72 hours nobody has any idea what’s going to happen this season.  That means that until Monday morning rolls around nobody, besides me of course, can call anybody an idiot based on their naïve homerisms.  For the next few days everybody has a chance.  That is of course until Tuesday morning rolls around and everybody who isn’t a Patriots fan is going to hate their lives.  Such is life…

Regardless, consider this my own attempt at getting through the inevitable injuries, the half-hearted upsets, and the enigma that is the West coast of the NFL and getting my preseason thoughts on paper.  When I was putting this piece together today I realized why legitimate sports sites (read: not ours) usually only have a limited amount of journalists write out full previews.  After all, I read Dean Indignant’s preview last night and I’m already pissed off that he posted his first.  It’s hard to have original ideas when you’re writing with a group of guys that you talk to about sports everyday, but I’m going to try anyway.  However, since Indignant already stole every funny thought I had about the NFL I’m going to focus solely on the Southern divisions of the NFL and probably just chime in with a few things I like about the other divisions and several things I hate.  Then again, we’ll see where the article and the Captain Morgan take me before I commit to anything. 

For the record, I’ve taken a similar approach with several women in my life and it has never ended well; so to say that I’m expecting anything good here is extremely naïve and borderline retarded.

@DrJaded:  Scratch the borderline part and you might be on to something.  Just sayin’…

Yep, I just tweeted myself, I’m cool like that.

AFC East:

Things I like:

-          Tom Brady.  Yes, as Coach Caulk would say I’m sucking his dick by saying this.  No, I don’t care.  In fact, I’m pretty sure that complimenting the man with the dimple chin is the only way I’ll ever get anywhere near Gizelle whatever the hell her name is.  This dude is a monster and I’m not afraid to admit it.  He’s not QUITE as big of a man crush for me as Shia Lebouf is, but it’s pretty damn close.  If I could have his children, I would.

-          Mark Sanchez.  I have absolutely no reason for saying this beyond the fact that I sort of like USC.  Then again, the man beat out Cleo Lemonade, so he HAS to be the real deal.  Right?

-          Chad Henne.  I swear to God this won’t become a QB stroke fest, I just think the guy might actually break through once the Dolphins go to hell this year.

Things I don’t like:

-          New England’s Defense.  It probably doesn’t matter because I don’t see their offense ever slowing down, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see New England cover zero Vegas spreads this year and squash the Vegas over week in and week out. 

-          Terrell Owens.  Fun fact, there have been six times ever that a receiver has had 1,000 yards after turning 35.  Jerry Rice was three of them.  Call me insane, but I don’t think Trent Edwards qualifies as the second coming of either Steve Young or Rich Gannon. 

-          Ronnie Brown.  Miami has less than five games against teams that can’t stop the run.  He might be a hell of a Wildcat guy, but I’d bet what little money I have that his Fantasy numbers suck this year.

AFC West

Things I like:

-          Phillip Rivers.  Alright, I don’t LOVE Rivers, but there wasn’t any other redeeming characteristic about this division so I took the default Jaded way out and picked a QB.  Hate me?  Yeah, me too.

Things I don’t like:

-          The Denver Broncos.  So last year they went 8-8.  They responded by firing Mike Shanahan, trading Jay Cutler for Kyle Orton, and putting their best receiver in ‘time out’ when he was supposed to be learning a new system.  Does anybody else think that the functioning part of Broncos owner Pat Bowlen’s brain is sitting with Kyle Orton’s throwing arm and Brandon Marshall’s elite WR contract in la-la land somewhere riding unicorns and chasing the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow?  Speaking of Bowlen, can you imagine being responsible for players making millions of dollars and being told by your two biggest offensive threats that they want to go elsewhere?  Talk about being unable to buy love.  The ultimate irony in all of this is that Al Davis is the only person in a managerial position in this division that’s getting ragged on.  Speaking of Al Davis…

-          The Oakland Raiders.  I usually pride myself on my ability to laugh at stupid people and Al Davis has even caused ME to draw the line.  I spent the majority of the off-season convincing myself he has some genius plot behind his ridiculousness.  I thought maybe he was angling to get the Raiders taken over by the league when he traded Randy Moss a few years ago.  I thought he was trying to save money when he drafted Hayward-Bay instead of Michael Crabtree.  Now I just think he’s pretty convinced the NFL is just going to die after the 2010 season so that #1 pick won’t matter.  Then again, I used to think Al Davis had a plan.  Nowadays I just think he’s the retard playing Monopoly with you who trades Boardwalk to the biggest asshole in the game for two utilities just to piss YOU off.  Yes, Al, I think you’re targeting me specifically and I don’t like it.

-          The Kansas City Chiefs.  Yeah, they suck too.

-          Norv Turner.  At this point I ALMOST feel bad for Norv Turner.  I feel like he is consistently the laughing stock of the league as far as coaches are concerned.  Then I realized it is not my job to defend the odd man out, it is in fact my job to further ostracize him when given the chance.  This is my chance.  If the Chargers win ten games, it’s NOT because of him.  Period.

AFC North:

Things I like:

-          The Baltimore Ravens.  I honestly don’t care that their defense is getting old.  By the definition of age I’m getting old and I’m pretty sure I still have ‘it.’  So why can’t the Ravens still be legitimate?  I look at it this way; the Ravens have the 27th easiest schedule in the league.  The Ravens have a second year QB who wasn’t asked to do anything in his rookie year but showed some flashes when he had to.  The Ravens have 17 RBs and one of them might be legitimate.  The Ravens get to play the Browns twice and the entire AFC West once.  All in all this argument comes down to exactly one point:  the Ravens still have Ed Reed.  Personally, I don’t care if Ed is 90 years old, if I’m carrying something that looks like a football down the street and I see Ed Reed I’m dropping it and running the other way.  He is a scary human being in every sense of the word.  I don’t see them toppling the Steelers, but they are a solid Wild Card team.

-          The Bengals home stretch.  As of November 22nd, the Bengals last seven games look like this:  @ Oakland, Cleveland, Detroit, @ Minnesota, @ San Diego, Kansas City, New York Jets.  For all practical purposes if the Bengals can steal one game in either Minnesota or San Deigo they have a legitimate chance of finishing the season at 6-1.  Worst case 5-2.  That’s a pretty solid gift from the scheduling gods in the second half.  ESPECIALLY if Palmer can stay healthy.

-          The Browns QB.  WOW – Jaded likes a QB!  Big shock, right?  Maybe it’s his workout commercials.  Maybe it’s the fact that I like when young QBs with potential carry the clipboard for a few years.  Either way, I like the idea of playing Brady Quinn.

Things I don’t like:

-          The Bengals home stretch.  So if the Bengals finish the aforementioned 6-1 or 5-2, can they legitimately give up on Carson when the draft rolls around or fire Marvin Lewis.  If this team doesn’t make a big jump they could be doomed for a looooong time.

-          The Pittsburgh Steelers.  No, I don’t hate them as a winning team.  I think they win the division and I don’t think its close.  On the other hand, I am going to hate every win with every ounce of my soul.  I don’t mean to seem like a Nostradickhead or anything, but I’m finishing this article after watching the opening game against the Titans and it was typical Steeler football to a ‘T.’  Ever since I’ve moved to this God-forsaken city I’ve been subjected to week in and week out of the Steelers playing as badly as humanly possible and getting away with it.  You mean to tell me that if I told anybody on Thursday morning that they were going to win that game because Rob Bironas missed a 30 freaking yard field goal they wouldn’t have laughed at me?  Then again, based on my experience on Thursday I would have been talking to an overweight slob standing in the Subway service line wearing either a Randle El or Greg Lloyd jersey (I wish I were kidding).  I could go on for days about my hatred for the Steelers, but I’m going to try and avoid it.  I’ll just leave you with two recent conversations I’ve had with Pittsburgh fans in Twitter form:

@Steelerswon2xin4yearsbyplayingbad: Ben is a better QB than Peyton Manning because Ben has two rings.

@FantasySavant: Ben had 342 yards tonight, 1 TD, and 2 picks, but only one counted.  He has to be a legit top 5 Fantasy QB now, right? (I won’t mention his 4 sacks, because I’m a Steelers fan and I refuse to acknowledge them.)

I wish I were kidding but those actually happened.  How about two more?

@TheShittyOfPittsburgh: Did you see us waving our terrible towels while the Black Eyed Peas botched what is possibly the easiest performable song ever written?  Tonight’s gonna be a GREAT night!  Go Steelers!

@Ben’sPumpFake:  It worked BIOTCH!!!!

…FML.  Seriously.

AFC South:

As one of the two divisions I’m supposed to be reviewing I’m going to bypass the things I like and things I don’t like routine and actually do some sort of analysis.  Before I started researching (hahahahahahaha) for this article I honestly believed this division was full of the sexy sleepers that couldn’t realistically compete with the rest of the NFL.  Then I started to look into it and I’m actually starting to like their chances.  None of them have particularly challenging schedules and all of them have the upside of a slightly overweight woman who just got dumped by her long term boyfriend for someone younger with a better surgeon (see my NFC North preview below for more information).  Long story short, this division is actually growing on me.  I DON’T think they get three teams into the playoffs in January, but it wouldn’t really surprise me because I think most of the teams are close and very talented.  Moving on.

Colts (11-5)  For some reason, the Colts just won’t go away.  They had Peyton Manning playing on one leg for most of last year and still managed to finish at 12-4 in the regular season.  It’s an enigma, it really is.  They had no running game on paper, they couldn’t stop the run, and they had injuries that would have been a legitimate excuse.  Hell, you can’t even really blame Tony Dungy’s impending retirement because they inevitably quit on him in the playoffs.  Regardless, they still got there. 

Now last season is behind us and they suddenly have a running game – Donald Brown looked ridiculous in camp.  Peyton Manning is actually healthy – did you notice how he stands up a little straighter in the DirectTV commercials?  I did.  They have the best sound guy in the NFL who plays awesome sounds when the other teams’ offenses are on the field in the RCA Dome.  And for all we know, their defense might actually be legitimate this year.  If it weren’t for Bob Sanders’ injury this team would be a lock to win 12 games this year.  Regardless, I’m pretty sure they win 11, win the division and move on to lose in the first round of the playoffs.  Don’t say I didn’t tell you so.

After the Colts things get a little murky, but I’ll probably try to figure them out anyway.

Titans (9-7)  This is a good 9-7 team if you ask me.  Then again, the ONLY thing I know for sure is that this team isn’t going to go 16-0 since I’m writing this preview after the Steelers overtime debacle on Thursday night.  Going into that game I was pretty sure the Titans were doomed for a terrible season.  I couldn’t understand how they could bounce back from losing an Alfred Haynesworth who was in a contract year.  I couldn’t understand how Kerry Collins who has done nothing but let me down time and time again could actually look competent for a second straight year.  Somehow, though, they got off to a decent start.  They pushed the defending champions to overtime and had multiple chances to win that game.  Granted, if Troy Polamolu doesn’t get hurt it’s probably a different story, but it’s not like the 2002 Ohio State Buckeyes win the National Championship if the artist formerly known as Willis McGahee doesn’t go down either, so injuries along with anything I write should probably be taken with a pound of salt.

I think the ultimate reason the Titans are going to surprise some people lies in their wide receiver core.  Brandon Jones is gone and so is Justin “cut by the Jets for Christ sakes” McCareins and have been replaced by Kenny Britt, a rookie out of Rutgers, and Nate Washington from the Pittsburgh team who shall not be named in order to keep me on task.  On paper, these receivers look like crap and are laughable to anybody that knows anything.  Then again, their QB IS Kerry Collins.  The connection sort of works out. 

Gage is a terrible route runner matched with a QB who never really cared about slant routes to begin with  Washington is a supposed to be a long-ball option who has hands that make a comparison to brick look weak matched with a QB who never could get the ball over the top.  Finally, they have Kenny Britt who has some upside and on a normal team would take time to learn a professional system.  Lucky for Kenny, he doesn’t have to learn anything with Collins throwing him the ball.  The worse the route, the better.  The shorter the cut back, the better.  By blind freaking luck, Tennessee might have found a way to totally get rid of the transitional woes for an essentially undersized rookie receiver.

Then again, would you expect anything less from a Kerry Collins team?

**Unrelated side note.  Do you think Lendale “Lime, hold the Tequila” White and Kerry attend AA meetings together?  Hell of a team chemistry builder if you ask me**

Texans (9-7)  Don’t tell me, I already know.  For the umpteenth year in a row I’m going to fall for the sexy sleeper pick that is the Houston Texans.  I’m serious, shut up about it.  I know that every year the Texans finish the second half of their schedule at like 6 – 2 and everybody loves them going into to the next year only to see them start off at 2 – 6.  I know that Steve Slaton’s body is built in such a way that it would probably be undersized to play point guard in the NBA.  I also realize that Matt Schaub’s durability makes Slaton look unbreakable.  I know that Andre Johnson has never had 1,000 receiving yards in back to back seasons and I know that he has only had one hundred receptions twice in his six years.  Alright, fine, just say it already.

@JadedShouldStickToDatingAdvice: You’re going to hate yourself for this.

I know, I know.  I sort of already do.

But there’s one legitimate reason that I won’t allow myself to talk myself out of it.  I honestly believe that for the first time in the history of Houston being the dreaded trendy sleeper their schedule actually might allow it.  Aside from their six divisional games, the Texans play the NY Jets, Oakland, @ Arizona (week 5; 50-50 odds Warner is dead by then), @ Cincinnati, San Francisco, @ Buffalo, Seattle, @ St. Louis, @ Miami, and New England in week 17 where the Pats will probably already have their division wrapped up or be without Brady in a scenario where the Texans can win.  Regardless, I’m pretty sure a Pop Warner squad could go 7-3 in those ten games.  If the Texans are in any way, shape, or form healthy or decent this year they can pretty easily go 8-2 in those games.  That means if they don’t win a single game in their division they go 8-8.  Is it THAT unrealistic to think that the Texans could win 10 games this year?  Not to mention there is always that outside shot that Kevin Walter turns out to be pretty damn good and gives every opposing secondary enough bad dreams that suddenly the Texans offense looks pretty damned scary. 

@KeepDreamingJaded: You’re being dramatic, excessive, and you’re going to lose sleep over this.  I hope you have nightmares of Slaton’s legs popping off like a GI Joe action figure every time you close your eyes.

Sigh…you’re probably right.  And there is ZERO chance that’s less than 160 characters.

Jaguars (7-9)  Thus far in this article you were supposed to learn two things from Dr. Jaded.  You were supposed to learn that I am a terrible predictor of results and you are supposed to have learned that I am a sucker for schedules.  I wish I could explain to you how I’m picking a team that went 5 – 11 last year with a coach on the metaphorical hot seat to get to 7 wins.  Sadly, just like the rest of my life, I have no viable explanation.  The ONLY reason I can’t pick a bad team in this division is because I honestly think the scheduling gods just decided to give the whole division a year off from tough games. 

Just like the Texans the Jaguars out of division schedule is a joke to say the least.  They play the NFC West with the Cardinals at home and they play the AFC East with Miami at home.  I’m pretty sure that the Jaguars can find seven wins in this schedule.  Anytime you look down your schedule and see St. Louis, Cleveland, Kansas City, San Francisco, and Buffalo you feel pretty good about your chances.  This team could go winless in their division and still find a better record than their 5 – 11 performance in 2008. 

As far as personnel goes, I don’t hate Jacksonville.  Allegedly their new WR Mike Sims-Walker will follow in the footsteps of the other man on their team with two last names in Maurice Jones-Drew and probably won’t suck.  David Garrard always finds a way to be a top ten Fantasy wide receiver and that doesn’t happen unless you find the end zone once in a while.  Garrard was viable last year with Troy Williamson and Jerry Porter as his alleged go-to options and somehow the team acquired the talent formerly known as Torry Holt and I’d imagine won’t be any worse than last year.  Besides, what this team lacks in aerial appeal they make up for in Maurice Jones Drew at RB and a pretty solid core of linebackers.  Don’t take this prediction as an indication of me liking the Jaguars as much as it should be taken of a statement of how much I really really hate the teams they’re playing.

NFC East

Things I like:

-          Brian Westbrook/LeSean McCoy.  One of these two has to have a big year.  As far as I’m concerned, it’s one of the most dynamic backfields in the league and the most dynamic backfield in the division.  I’ll gladly take these two against the three headed (no brained) monster in Dallas, Clinton “I don’t care if I’m hurt, I’m damn well playing and dressing in drag afterwards” Portis and Ladell Betts in Washington, and yes, even Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw in New York.  I know Portis is a monster, and I know Jacobs is a truck, but I’m a big believer in RBs who can catch more than just a donut in New York or the HIV in Washington.  I’ll take Philly all day, and that legitimately hurts me to say.

-          Jason Campbell.  I like that they’re taking the leash off of him and might let him throw downfield once in a while.  I’d also like to point out that he was quietly having a good season last year until Dean Indignant made a Fantasy trade that put him on my roster.  Needless to say his first INT coincided with his first appearance on my team.  It also goes without saying that my team name changed from ‘Whatever the Hell I used to call it’ to ‘Place Players Go To Die’ after this five star acquisition.  I’m not drafting him anywhere this year and I’m not ordering his jersey, so I’m confident he’ll be fine.  Hell, after what I did to him last year I’m pretty sure he could throw for 30 TDs in the first half of the season and someone could offer him to me for a 10th round draft pick next year and I wouldn’t take him.  I owe the man this much.

-          Candice Crawford.  Yep, Romo moved on from THIS to THIS.  Win.

Things I don’t like:

-          The New York Giants.  Indignant already called Eli a mouth breather so I can’t do that.  Indignant already made a joke about Plaxico shooting himself in the leg, so I can’t do that.  Aside from the obvious implied short bus joke, I got nothing left. 

-          The Dallas Cowboys scoreboard.  I had a pretty normal childhood.  We played tackle football in the street, roller hockey on blacktop in the snow, and basketball on eight foot hoops.  We were competitive, we were diehard, basically, we were kids.  Regardless, there came a point in our competitive youth where we realized that the ‘redo’ was a bad idea.  It became entirely too often that one of us would intentionally throw a pass off of a parked car when we were about to get eaten by the fat kid who always played D-line in order to guarantee ourselves a second chance at throwing the perfect pass.  I can’t tell you how many times we almost drew blood with each other over the controversial do-over.  I’d like to thank Jerry Jones for the inevitable increase in murder amongst teenagers that will result in watching Ben Roethlisberger running back twenty yards, shaking off two sacks, and chucking the ball off his back foot into the bottom of the scoreboard for a redo.  Wait, wrong division?  Screw it, I hate the Steelers.

-          The Eagles new snap cadence.  Down.  Set.  Woof!

NFC West

Things I like:

-          Samkon Gado.  The backup to Steven Jackson is probably ready to take the step into becoming a viable Fantasy back in a terrible situation.  Jackson did it a few years ago and when he breaks his femur this year I totally expect Gay-do to fill the void and become the most controversial jersey worn in middle school classrooms around the country.  I’m not a proponent of youth violence, but I know if someone calls me gay-do I’m kicking his ass.  Or dying trying…

-          Vernon Davis.  Nah, I’m totally kidding, but I bet you were intrigued.  Right?

-          Mike Singletary.  This time I’m not kidding.  Anybody who isn’t afraid to take on the mob that runs the 49ers by manning up to the media scares the crap out of me.  I’m tempted to pick the 49ers to win the division, but I’m also tempted to kill myself daily and I haven’t taken that plunge either.     Yet…

Things I don’t like:

-          Matt Leinart.  Seems kinda weird that I like Sanchez and hate Leinart, right?  In fact, it probably makes NO sense at all.  Welcome to my thought process.  Regardless, I have a  better chance of sleeping with (read: impregnating) Megan Fox in the next six months than Kurt Warner does of playing all 16 games this year.  He’s never done it in back to back seasons and he played 20 games last year combined with off season surgery.  He’s not lasting the season and I don’t care how ridiculously freakish Larry Fitzgerald is, not even he can make Leinart look good.  Sadly, I don’t see Matt taking the Reggie Bush push happen this year.  When Kurt goes down it’s over for the Cardinals.

-          Matt Hasselbeck’s time off.  According to a marginally attractive ESPN injury specialist (nope, don’t laugh, they really hire people for this crap) Matt can throw his back out again with a sneeze, a bad turn, or by sleeping wrong.  I don’t understand how anybody calls this anything other than vaginitis.  You mean to tell me a guy that’s making 5.25 million this year is allowed to miss work because he sneezes too hard?  Christ, I make $10 an hour and I need SARS to get a day off.  Life sucks.

NFC North

Things I like:

-          The off-season.  I don’t have much in life, but I have three possessions that you should not mess with.  First of all, leave my family alone, they’re good people.  Second of all, you touch my iPod and you will die.  Finally, do NOT mess with my primetime football – ever.  Between the Steelers monopolizing local coverage every week at 1pm and the evil bastard that is Jerry Jones sucking off Fox executives for the national 4pm slot, I get 32 games a year barring some exceptions that are all mine. I get one game on Sunday night and one game on Monday night and they are sacred.  Last year, out of these 32 games I had to watch the Bears four times and the Vikings three times.  Pardon my intolerance, but I hate the idea of watching Kyle Orton and Tarvaris Jackson in situations that even managed to kill off any Fantasy interest I might have.  Thanks to the off-season I no longer have that problem.  You can call Jay Cutler a baby and you can call Favre a premadonna all you want, but I am literally giddy over the idea of the Bears and the Packers going at it this Sunday night and the impending NFC North match-ups that will follow in primetime.  I’m not one of those jackasses (before you pass judgment finish the sentence, please) that talks about the ‘glory days of the NFL’ from before I was born. I don’t freaking care and I will never freaking care.  On the other hand, I think it is REALLY good for the NFL that every NFC North battle is going to be fun to watch again.  You mean to tell me you DON’T want to see Favre get booed at Lambeau or watch Jay Cutler actually find out if Devin Hester is as dynamic at catching the ball as he is at running it back?  Get the hell out, this is gonna be awesome…

-          The Green Bay Packers.  In spite of a comparatively quiet off-season they’re gonna be pretty good too.  Say what you want about Brett Favre, but I honestly think the bull he put Rodgers through has made him the fledgling superstar that he is now.  I look at it like this:  if you’re dating an attractive thing with boobs, you have NO idea what a gym looks like.  However, as soon as the walking pleasure hole leaves you, you renew your membership and work out like a madman.  Nothing pisses off people that gave up on you like some good old fashioned motivation for a vengeance lay disguised as self improvement.  At least I’m pretty sure that’s what Rodgers tells to all of the posters of Brett Favre surrounding his weight bench.  If you think Favre being in his division isn’t going to make him even better then you’re not Jaded enough and you should reevaluate what’s important to you.

-          Kevin Smith.  1262 all purpose yards in his rookie season.  8 TDs and only 2 fumbles in 277 touches.  Jadey likey.

Things I don’t like:

- Lane Kiffin.  Once again, I hate you Al Davis.  If you hadn’t insisted on spiting your former unproven head coach and taken JaMarcus Russell with the number one pick in the 2007 NFL Draft then you would have drafted Calvin Johnson and you probably would have traded him to the Patriots for a water bottle and a washing machine by now.  I know this has nothing to do with the NFC North but I can’t help but feel sorry for Megatron every time I see him on the field.  For the record, I hate using dumb nicknames for players but I felt like being cool for once, suck it.  Johnson has all of the potential in the world but do we really see him succeeding in Detroit?  For that matter, has anything ever really succeeded in Detroit?  Yeah, I suppose you could make a case for General Motors, but we all see where that’s going.  The bottom line is, CJ is a freak of nature, and I’m sure he’s counting down the days until free agency calls his name.  As a Fantasy addict, so am I.

NFC South

To those of you who don’t me let me preface this by informing you of something – I am a Carolina Panthers fan.  I know it doesn’t make any sense at all and I know I should have given up on them a long time ago, but for some reason I keep coming back.  Continuing on the presumption that there might be someone reading this site that doesn’t know me, I also feel the need to inform you that God really hates me.  This is evidenced by the fact that the division my favorite team plays in is going to be a crap-show this year – and I’m phrasing it nicely.  The Panthers schedule is the 2nd hardest in the league, the Falcons schedule is the 3rd toughest, the Buccaneers schedule is the 5th toughest, and the bastard Saints boast the 8th toughest in the league.  Is it completely impossible for the winning team in this division to go 8 -8 and actually be a playoff threat?  I fully expect every team in the division to go 3-3 against each other winning at home and losing on the road and I expect this every team in this division to show up with a different look every week.  I can’t guarantee who will win this division, and I can’t even guarantee who will come in last place.  The only thing I can promise is that Jake Delhomme will piss me off at least once a week for the next 17 weeks.  Beyond that, I’m pretty damn confused.  I digress…

Falcons (10-6) This prediction is going to drastically change based on their game with Miami in opening weekend.   I really think both of these teams over achieved in 2008 and one of them is going to tank this year.  And we’re not talking a small tanking here.  Mark my words, either the Dolphins or the Falcons are going to stink so bad they’re going to make Punisher War Zone look successful.  Unfortunately for me as a Panthers fan, I just don’t think it’s going to be the Falcons.

The run defense pisses me off week in and week out because ever since John Abraham showed up there he’s given me nightmares.  I realize they finished 28th against the rush last year but if you look into those numbers they gave up a ton of big plays.  On third down they finished 13th which doesn’t exactly make me feel better since they seem to stop teams when it matters.  To top it off, their secondary isn’t terrible by any means.

Truthfully speaking, I don’t think this team is going to need much of a defense to stay in games anyway as their offense has been pretty well documented.  Michael Turner is a machine, Roddy White suddenly is a WR god, and Matt Ryan had one of the best rookie QB seasons of all time.  If he doesn’t slump, and I don’t think he will, I’m screwed.

Oh yeah, the Falcons also went out and traded for some guy you might have heard of.  His name is Tony Gonzalez or some Mexican nombre like that.  I usually gauge the effectiveness of a trade one of my competitors makes by whether or not it pissed me off.  Needless to say I was livid when I heard this.

Then again, there’s always that chance that the Falcons fall back to mediocrity this year.  Turner had too many carries last year according to all the experts, Roddy White could come back to Earth, and Matt Ryan might remember he went to Boston College and follow in the footsteps of Tim Hasselbeck and Doug Flutie and amount to nothing.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

@God:  Don’t forget, I hate you.  He’s going to be the next John Elway, suck it.  Muahahahahaha : )

…Amen

Saints (8–8) There’s really no reason the Saints are going to be only a .500 team other than the fact that their schedule is ridiculous, they can’t stay healthy and the season hasn’t even started yet, and their defense makes Paris Hilton’s vagina look hard to penetrate.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m totally on the Drew Brees bandwagon, but I think that there’s something in the water in New Orleans (insert extremely offensive Katrina joke here) that keeps these guys off the field.  The problem for me as a Panthers fan is that nobody seems to give a damn and there’s a plausible solution to every possible problem they have.

Problem: Going into week one there’s a huge question mark about the health of Pierre Thomas’ MCL.
Anti-Jaded solution: Mike Bell is a monster who is going to a la Michael Turner and Darren Sproles in San Diego.

Problem: Marques Colston has never played 16 games in his career.
Anti-Jaded solution: Brees had that ridiculous season last year and Colston only played 6 games, everything else is just gravy.  P.S. Devery Henderson will always perform unless he is on your Fantasy team, Jaded.

Problem: Drew Brees has been way too healthy for way too long as a QB – he’s missed 6 games in 7 years.
Anti-Jaded solution:
He grew a mullet in the off-season to increase his durability. 

Problem: Reggie Bush just got dumped by Kim Kardashian.
Anti-Jaded solution:  Reggie Bush is now single, undistracted, and needs to trick another ridiculously sexy celebrity to sleep with him.  Think he’s working out a little bit more than usual?

Problem: Jeremy Shockey is a locker room cancer.
Anti-Jaded solution: Shockey has been a model freaking citizen since January.  He actually shows up early and stays late to talk to Brees about the offense.

Problem: Dr. Jaded doesn’t have access to cyanide or any rooftops of tall buildings.
Anti-Jaded solution: Die in a grease fire…

Panthers (7-9) For some reason I’ve been dreading writing this part.  Something about Carolina just infuriates me.  In fact, as I’m writing this at 5am I’m pouring myself a tequila, lime, and Diet Coke just to get through it.  I’m pretty sure I’ll switch to just tequila about halfway through, but here we go.

I hate everything about the Carolina Panthers this year, I really freaking do.

I hate their schedule.  I hate that our first win probably won’t come until week five against Washington.  I hate that we get the Patriots @ New England in DECEMBER.  I hate that we get the Cowboys @ Dallas.  I hate that we get the Giants @ NY in JANUARY.  I hate that they have the same schedule the Steelers had last year (NFC East and AFC East) and nobody is talking about it.

I hate that we can’t stop the run.  Sure, you stared down Julius Peppers and you won.  Congratulations.  You now have $14 mill locked into a guy that doesn’t want to be there.  Well played, Carolina, well played.

I hate their hype.  I hate that DeAngelo Williams will never be off the radar again.  I love the guy, I really REALLY do.  But I see him as more of a Larry Johnson than a Ladanian Tomlinson.  I think last year was his huge year and he’ll never rebound from it.  I think they’re going to run him into the ground and not have a healthy Jonathan Stewart to rely on.

I hate that I like Jake Delhomme.  Every Panther fan has pretty much had their fill of good old Jake.  Hell, the entire league is fed up with him.  Personally, I love the guy.  If I had to pick one NFL QB to have as a roommate it would be him.  I mean, the guy got a $20 million extension and he used it to buy his father farm equipment; I’m pretty sure he would at least buy me a nice TV.  He has that lovable Southern draw in his voice that would make sure we always brought back gorgeous women to watch my TV with me.  He is one of the most likable guys in the league and he would be a great godfather to whatever legitimate children I ever conceive.  The guy is a great human being; he’s just not a good NFL QB.  I never like to see the game in his hands and I hate saying that about my starting QB.  He always does enough to get by but when he’s asked to do more he usually implodes.  I don’t even blame him for the events that may or may not have occurred in the playoffs last year (we shall NEVER speak of them, for the record), I blame the coaching. 

I’m starting to hate John Fox.  The event that shall not be named falls solely on his shoulders.  You have a running back who is dominating the league and you decide to get into an aerial war with the Arizona Cardinals at home??  You charge down the field on your opening drive via DeAngelo Williams and then you decide that throwing the ball, which you haven’t done all damned year, is a good idea?  Why must you punish me John, WHY?!?!?

I hate Jerry Richardson’s master plan and his new lease on life.  First of all, I love the Carolina Panthers’ ownership.  Until now I have never had a problem with them at all and I’m obviously thrilled that Jerry was able to get a new heart.  However, I’m pretty sure he’s up to something and I don’t like it.  If Jerry’s plan isn’t to watch John Fox tank this year, fire him, and hire Bill Cowher than I literally have nothing to say.  I wish I liked this idea as much as I should, but I really don’t.  Here’s the paradox with Jerry.  When you think you might die you typically live for today, when you magically extend your life you’re supposed to live for tomorrow.  So someone explain to me how Jerry’s new heart is the one that pumped blood to his brain to approve trading next year’s first round pick (it’s a top ten pick in my opinion) for a 2nd round pick this year.  I like Everette Brown as much as anybody but there’s no chance that he’s worth a top ten pick next year.  Especially when the draft is going to be QB heavy and your QB of the future presently is Matt Moore or the undrafted guy from Louisville Hunter Caldwell.  If I was Jerry Richardson I would ask for a refund and get a new heart.  The piece he got pretty obviously came from either someone in the Browns organization or Al Davis’ body when they took out all of his organs and left us with a robot to laugh at.

I’m not laughing Al, take it back.

@JoseCuervo:  Drink me…Drink ME…DRINK ME!

Buccaneers (4-12)  Realistically speaking, the Buccaneers (from hence forth to be referred to as the Bucs not because I’m a fan but because there are too many letters in their full name) really shouldn’t be that terrible.  Here’s the problem though:  How do you get rid of Jon Gruden, start an aging Cadillac, lose most of your veteran defensemen, and fire your offensive coordinator a week before the season and expect to improve?  Call me an optimist, but I just don’t see it.  Yes, I meant to use the word optimist there, have you been paying ANY attention at all?

Sure the Bucs went out and got Kellen Winslow.  Sure the Bucs went out and got Byron Leftwich.  In a vacuum, these are both good moods.  However, I’m pretty sure Winslow is a psychopath.  That guy is the only tight end in the league that thrives on going over the middle and leading with his head.  Granted I don’t think his head is used for anything else, so I guess it’s better to do this than let it go to waste, but does anybody think he can stay on the field?  Just because he doesn’t use his brain for anything daily doesn’t mean he doesn’t need it.  Besides, the guy strikes me as volatile as hell.  I literally worry that one of these days he’s going to pull a stick of dynamite out of his jersey for a TD celebration and light it.  Does anybody think he’s going to like Leftwich trying to break his fingers with every throw?  Meh, who cares.  How much do you think he’ll get fined for the TNT TD celebration?

Of all the acquisitions in the off-season that I’ve sat by and watched, the Derrick Ward thing makes the least sense to me and it’s not even close.  I like to consider myself non-committal in every sense of the word.  I always find myself comparing every new girl I meet to the ones I’ve already let go, but the Bucs seems to be taking it to the extreme.  I know that Cadillac Williams was their first love.  I know he’s pretty.  I know he’s named after a luxury vehicle.  I know that you don’t want to give up on him.  But sometimes your first love moves on and the one you should have been with all along walks into your life and you shouldn’t overlook her…err….the RB.  Nevermind, I know I’m going to fail at any relationship based analogy that I attempt, so I give up.  Start Derrick Ward, don’t start Derrick Ward, it doesn’t bother me.  I’m sure you’re going to be a terrible team and 2 of your 4 wins will come against Carolina regardless of what you do.

NFC Playoff Teams:
Eagles, Seahawks, Packers, Falcons, Vikings, Bears

AFC Playoff Teams:
Patriots, Steelers*, Colts, Chargers, Ravens, Titans

Wildcard Games:
Falcons over the Bears
Packers over the Vikings

Chargers over the Titans
Colts over the Ravens

Divisional Games:
Eagles over the Falcons
Packers over the Seahawks

Patriots over the Chargers
Steelers over the Colts

Conference Championships:
Eagles over the Packers
Patriots over the Steelers

Super Bowl:
Patriots over the Eagles

*This allllll changes if Troy Polamulu misses any significant time after week 1.

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