Tag Archives: Atlanta Falcons

Stuff That Grinds My Gears: What’s Been Pissing Me Off Lately

Over the past few weeks, there have been two issues that really chapped my ass.  I’ve been trying to just let them go, but then I realized I’m a blogger; it’s my non-paying job to bitch about stuff.  So, here it goes…

1) The Bobby Petrino Situation

The guy is a scumbag, pure and simple. But Arkansas got what they deserved, and the only person I’ve seen say that is the guy over at Klown Times.

Keep in mind that (Arkansas athletic director Kevin) Long is the same AD who hired Petrino away from the Atlanta Falcons DURING THEIR SEASON. If that wasn’t bad enough, Long did so without asking permission to speak to Petrino.

Plus, I find it hard to believe that Long did not know of Petrino’s past transgressions. After all, this is the same Petrino who secretly flirted with Auburn while former coach Tommy Tuberville was still employed there.  And of course there was that Atlanta Falcons “thing.”

Let’s take Klown’s position as a starting point. I’ve always had a sort of “three strikes” rule when it comes to forming opinions, and this latest incident with Petrino was clearly worthy of ringing him up as a complete dick…100%, USDA Prime, Grade A Tube Steak.

Look at the Auburn situation. You know what kind of guy flies into town secretly to discuss ripping a job out from under another coach? The same kind of guy who pretends to be your best friend, then bangs your wife the minute you are out of town on business.  Not to mention, this tells you a lot about how much this guy values loyalty.  He was perfectly fine not only with leaving town unannounced in the middle of the night, he was willing to sneak in the back door at his secret destination. I understand that valuing loyalty in college sports is like cornering the sunscreen market in Alaska in January, but at some point you simply cannot advertise you are willing to stab anybody in the back at anytime; karma can be a real bitch. We’ll come back to that point later.

St-eeee-rike One.

Then, there’s what happened with the Falcons. The way that situation ended in Atlanta could have been a 500-level class in douchebaggery. Not only did Petrino actively seek to bail the minute things got tough mid-way through a failed season, he secretly campaigned for the Arkansas job while then-Hawg head coach Houston Nutt was embroiled in his own scandal, and when Bobby-Boy got the job in Fayetteville, he informed the Falcons of his mid-season departure with a letter.  The Falcons, and their owner Arthur Blank made a huge commitment to Petrino on the assumption he would be the big-time coach to make the transition from college to the NFL.  Fat chance; instead the Falcons realized the hard way they had married their future to a guy who couldn’t wait to skip town the minute a greener pasture presented itself.  Perhaps if Arthur Blank had paid Petrino in 25-year old motorcycle riding suck-sluts…

As much as the douchiness already oozes out of this issue, there’s two things that really pissed me off here. First of all, there’s the people who thought Petrino shouldn’t have been fired. Tell that to Houston Nutt. For those of you who may not recall, Nutt got himself run out of Fayetteville for some extra-marital cannubial bliss.  To make a long story short, Nutt’s relationship with local news anchor Donna Bragg hit the public arena when a fan who was angry with the Nutt filed a Freedom of Information Act requesting Nutt’s email and phone records, at which point he exposed his carnal canoodling with Bragg.

Of course, this led to Nutt’s firing, not for his won-loss record, but for his extra-curricular activity. I will admit I’m a fan of the Nutt, if for no other reason as he makes wonderful blog-fodder. But this is more about the potential headache Arkansas could have faced. If the university had not fired Petrino, the Nutt could have excoriated the Arkansas administration, especially since Petrino upped the ante over what the Nutt did by a) messing with a University employee who b) Petrino got on the payroll nad c) tried to cover up the motorcycle accident, up to and including trying not to call 911 to aid his injured mistress, which led to d) the filing of a false report on the incident to university administration.

Speaking of coaches who have no love for Petrino, do you wonder what Tommy Tuberville thought of all this? Sure, now Tuberville has his own issues to deal with at Texas Tech, but don’t forget that Tuberville hired Petrino at Auburn to run his offense.   In a move of complete foreshadowing,  Petrino stair-stepped that experience into the head coaching job at Louisville, the very same job from which Petrino then tried to secretly steal Tuberville’s gig at Auburn.  Here comes that karma thing again…

St-eeee-rike Two.

As far as strike three goes, we’ve really already alluded to it.  Honestly it isn’t about who Petrino was sticking his wang into; it’s about all the rules and decencies he broke to get into the pants of a woman was half his age.  We all know that story now, and while it is clearly a good reason to punch Petrino out (in more ways than the baseball reference implies), let’s just for fun say Petrino got a piece of it; foul tip and all that…we’re still at strike two.

Then read this.

Hark back to his days at Louisville, where the story of how Petrino of how he handled an incident with a player named D.J. Kamer incident, which while it was hushed up at the time, is nothing short of appaling.  Kamer had a friend pass away, and according to the New York Times, Petrino said that Kamer didn’t “want to play football (at Louisville)” if he attended his childhood friends funeral as a pallbearer. And in what is proving to be a theme with Petrino, that very same report in the New York Times quotes former Atlanta Falcons player Lawyer Milloy said “That’s karma…Just because he knows X’s and O’s doesn’t mean he is a nice person.”

St-eeee-rike Three.  Grab some bench, Bobby…you are out.

As far as blog-fodder is concerned, here’s a classic bit from the Dubsism archives about Bobby Petrino, Houston Nutt, Tommy Tuberville, and the classic Vietnam War story

2) The Overblown Ozzie Guillen “Controversy”

I really don’t know where to start with this one. I don’t know for whom I have the most invective for in this case. It could be the douchebags in the media who asked the outspoken Guillen a loaded question when they knew both the answer he would give and how they would attempt to explode the statements of a baseball manager into some sort of geo-political catastrophe. It could be the dumb-asses who stood in front of the Marlins’ ball-park acting as if Guillen’s statement about the murderous scumwad  known as Fidel Castro had somehow been responsible for all the misery caused throughout the annals of human history.  Hell, it could also be the people who acted as if this was the worst thing that could ever happen, then completely lost interest as quickly as they became so righteously indignant.

Let’s start from the top.

First of all, it is a sad state of affairs when I have to agree with that pompous bag of anal leakage known as Bill Maher. But his defense of Guillen, while done for reasons ideologically different from my own, is still nonetheless correct.

“If you say something Communists don’t like, they take away your job and send you to a re-education camp until you come out with the one approved opinion,” Maher said sarcastically. “We wouldn’t want that here in America.”

Granted, the blood of tens of thousands of innocent people is on Castro’s hands. If I were in Cuba and made the anti-Castro comments I’m making here, you can bet your beard and cigar my ass would be in a cell in no time. That’s what dictators do.  But in America, the press has the right to ask a loaded, pre-meditated, and/or albeit pointless question, much like Guillen has the right to answer it even if it means sticking both feet in his mouth up to the ankles.

Am I the only person who was reminded of the Marge Schott incident?  For those of you who don’t recall, Schott was sand-bagged by ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio when she made some pro-Hitler comments. For this she was run out of baseball, despite the fact that all she did was answer a question. If you read the transcript of the interview, two things should leap off the screen at you. First, what she said was hardly a ringing endorsement of Hitler, and second, you should find it curious that the exact wording of Paolantonio’s question is missing.

Here’s why that matters…if you are going to ask an out-spoken person like Schott or Guillen such loaded questions, aren’t you doing so EXACTLY to illicit such a quote you as a journalist can use to gin up a tempest on a keyboard? Doesn’t that then mean that the very same journalists who are fanning the flames of indignation are doing so while hiding their matches and gasoline cans?

Then, there’s the people who were so whipped up over all of this? This whole thing dripped with so much hypocrisy; people who don’t even go to Marlins games threatening boycotts unless Guillen was fired, yet they were noticeably absent when Guillen returned from his suspension.  Oh, that’s right, they weren’t going to show up anyway. Not to mention, many of these Cubans who were supposedly so upset by Guillen’s comments are the very same who have done nothing to help those people still stuck under Castro’s thumb. I understand this in no way applies to all Cubans, but there is a sizable portion of that community who have taken a decided “I got mine, you get yours” attitude towards those still in Cuba.  If you want to create change, you have to do more than show up for three hours with a cardboard sign.

Not to mention, there’s nothing quite like the supreme assholery of those who are so quick to label something “unforgivable.”  Guess what, you sign-waving dipshit? It is your very intolerance upon which dictatorships like the abhorrent one of Castro are built; the soul of tyranny is the stamping out of that which is deemed arbitrarily to be “unfavorable.”

Now, for the most important question. Why does anybody give a frog’s fat ass about what Ozzie Guillen thinks? He’s a baseball manager, and that’s all he is. He’s not the President, a Governor, or any sort of politician or government leader. He’s not an ambassador to the United Nations, he’s not even an over-paid entertainer who gets away with saying stupid shit on a daily basis. But like those entertainers, his words carry no weight, so outside of baseball there is no reason to give a damn about anything he says. One of the items in the Bill of Rights is the right to free speech; which is why one thing that isn’t there is the right not to be offended. There’s lots of truly offensive things in the world, and if you get your hackles up over the ramblings of a half-wit baseball manager, you really need to get out of the house more often.

The 2012 NFL Playoffs – The Definitive Dubsism Oddsmaker’s View

1) Green Bay Packers

Why They Can Win:

In this case, there’s three good reasons. First, just like in boxing, you are the champs until somebody beats you, and to get to the Super Bowl, an NFC team is going to have to pull that off in Lambeau Field in January. Secondly, the Packers have Aaron Rodgers, who is Tom Brady before the very mention of his name drove me another notch toward rectal cancer. Third, and most simply, the Packers offense as a unit may be the most formidable weapon in the entire league.

Why They Can’t Win:

In what will prove to be a theme here, the Packers can barely run the ball, and their idea of defense is simply to outscore the opponent. They can make that work, but it is also an approach susceptible to failure.

Odds of Winning: 2.5 to 1

2) New Orleans Saints

Why They Can Win:

To be honest, I don’t have a good answer for this.  Last season, the Saints had two major flaws, First, Drew Brees tossed picks at a  near Favrian clip. That got fixed. The Saints also did not have a realistic offensive option coming out of the backfield. That got fixed too.

Why They Can’t Win:

They have to go on the road to get past Green Bay, which is going to be a tall order.

Odds of Winning: 4 to 1


3) Baltimore Ravens

Why They Can Win:

The worm has turned 180 degrees from this time last year, at which point I said the following:

“If you know the difference between Target and WalMart, then you know the difference between the Steelers and the Ravens. The shopping carts are little cleaner and they roll a little straighter at Target, but you get better prices at WalMart. The Baltimore Ravens are WalMart, and nobody loves to save a buck more than a Hot-Pocket eating blogger.”

Well, the Ravens are now Target, and the Steelers are now Walmart.  Target is better.

Why They Can’t Win:

Ray Rice remains the main offensive weapon of this team, as Joe Flacco still has  consistency issues. Any team that can force Flacco to be the play-maker has a puncher’s chance.

Odds of Winning: 8 to 1

4) San Francisco 49ers

Why They Can Win:

The 49ers might very well be the most complete and balanced team in this field. Alex Smith finally looks like an NFL quarterback, Frank Gore continues to deliver, and the defense is one of the best in the league.

Why They Can’t Win:

Jim Harbaugh may very well be the NFL coach of the year, but he’s still a Rookie head coach. Most of this team has never been down the playoff road before, and the way they got manhandled by the Ravens just seems like too much of a warning sign there’s a demon out there which will present itself during a playoff game.

Odds of Winning: 12 to 1

5) Pittsburgh Steelers

Why They Can Win:

The Steelers are are still very physical and still have playmakers.  Ben Roethlisberger is one those guys that makes anything possible.

Why They Can’t Win:

Like the rest of the team, Roethlisberger is beat up. Rashard Mendenhall is gone for the duration. The one guy this team absolutely cannot win without is Troy Polamalu, and he is nicked up as well.  Without him, the Steelers become the Aluminumers.

Odds of Winning: 15 to 1

6) New England Patriots

Why They Can Win:

Because Tom Brady is still Tom Brady; one of the greatest quarterbacks in the history on the NFL, and he isn’t far enough past his prime to be discounted.

Why They Can’t Win:

To see the future in Foxboro, just look toward Indianapolis. Don’t look right this second, because you may notice the Patriots are beginning to get old before your very eyes.  They are the worst 13-3 team I’ve ever seen – they define over-rated.  They can’t run the ball and their defense couldn’t stop a Pop Warner team, yet somehow they are top-seed in the AFC.

All this team has is Tom Brady, and that’s just enough to hide the real defects in this team. There’s a reason I call this the “Manning Rule.”

Odds of Winning: 18 to 1

7) New York Giants

Why They Can Win:

Take a coin out of your pocket. This coin represents the streakiness of the New York Giants. Flip the coin. Heads, Giants win.

Why They Can’t Win:

That complete lack of consistency drives me batshit crazy. Flip that coin Again. Tales, Giants lose. Eli Manning is easily my favorite player to watch in the NFL; he is like a poker player who loses a shitload of $50 pots, and just enough $10,000 ones to stay above water.  This time, Eli is all in with two pair.

Odds of Winning: 20 to 1

8 ) Atlanta Falcons

Why They Can Win:

Matt Ryan is an up-and-coming young quarterback who has been compared to a young Peyton Manning, and the Falcons have one of the best receiving groups in the game, which means the Falcons are capable of hanging big numbers on anybody.

Why They Can’t Win:

Ryan lives up to the Manning comparisons.  If he does, expect the Falcons to fold because Manning has always been a terrible “big game” quarterback; Manning’s only Super Bowl win comes from Lovie Smith’s refusal to get Rex Grossman off the field. Eventually, I think Ryan will prove to be a “big-game” quarterback, I’m just not sold this is the year.

On the other side of the ball, the Falcons lack the pass rush or secondary to handle the lethal passing attacks in this postseason group.

Odds of Winning: 25 to 1

9) Houston Texans

Why They Can Win:

There is an inviolable rule about play-off football: never count out a team that can a) run the ball and b) play defense. This is the recipe the Texans used to get this far.

Why They Can’t Win:

The injury to Matt Schaub could be crippling. If Jake Delhomme is the answer, I don’t want to know the question.

Odds of Winning: 30 to 1

10) Cincinnati Bengals

Why They Can Win:

Andy Dalton and A.J. Green are going to be one the best QB/WR combinations in this league for quite some time. Not to mention, the Bengals can play a little defense as well.

Why They Can’t Win:

Because they are the Bengals. If you were going to spin a yarn about a NFL team with a curse, you’d start in Cincinnati. Even if you don’t buy that, winning three road playoff games and a Super Bowl with a rookie quarterback is the poker equivalent of hitting an inside straight three times in a row.

Odds of Winning: 35 to 1

11) Detroit Lions

Why They Can Win:

They can’t. Well, I take that back; everybody else’s plane could crash, there could be a plague of locusts, there could be a massive outbreak of food poisoning from the people who do all the NFL food handling.

Why They Can’t Win:

Even though they have Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson, I don’t buy this team and I never have.  This is a team that hasn’t even sniffed the playoffs in over a decade, hasn’t won a division title in nearly two, and hasn’t won a league title in over five.

This year’s version loves to act like a high-school junior varsity team. They run their mouths constantly. They have a complete lack of discipline, which comes from the coach on down. They implode the minute they face a challenge. They’ve been pretty good this season, but they have yet to show me they have the stones to make the move from good to great.

Odds of Winning: 50 to 1

12) Denver Broncos

Why They Can Win:

Two words: Tim Tebow.

Why They Can’t Win:

Two words: Tim Tebow.

Odds of Winning: 100 to 1

The Dubsism 2011 Pre-Season NFL Power Rankings

As we find ourselves on the verge of another NFL season, it is time for the degenerate gambler in me to preview the carnage. Let’s face it, the NFL is comprised of  three classes: Really Good, Mediocre, and Lousy.  This means NFL predictions are pretty easy to get reasonably correct. For example, the online sports book experts find it easy to predict the AFC East standings each year. As long as quarterback Tom Brady is playing for head coach Bill Belichick in New England, that will be your division favorite. Another point that should be obvious is that if you are reading this article and expecting anything more clever than a sports book expert, maybe you shouldn’t be gambling in the first place.

Having said that, here’s how we see these teams come January (playoff teams noted in green).

Rankings by Division

AFC East

The Patriots looked invincible last season until the New York Jets found their Achilles’ heel. Once you take away the Patriots running game, their offense suddenly can’t create plays. However, the Pats’ seem to have addressed that by solidifying the offensive line.  Otherwise, the Patriots needed to make two major changes;  they needed help in the defensive secondary, and they needed size in the running game. Danny Woodhead is a great story, but he’s a munchkin, and teams had him figured out by the playoffs. Brandon Meriwether is a fraud, and has been for a while. This is why the Patriots drafted defensive back Ras-I Dowling and running back Shane Vereen. When you stop to consider the Patriots’ past success at player scouting and development (don’t make me break out the Tom Brady cliché yet again), it is safe to assume that the Patriots solved their problems.

Q: Who knew this looked a future Hall-of-Famer? A: Bill Belichick.

But don’t sleep on the Jets.  The Jets get the second spot in the AFC East by default; the Bills and Dolphins are both in that “Lousy” category. The Jets season hinges on two things: the defense has to live up to expectations by being the dominant unit it should be, and Mark Sanchez has to not suck. Frankly, it is time for Sanchez to prove he is worthy of the star status he has been accorded. If he finally shows us he is the “San-chise,” the sky is the limit for the Jets. If not, expect another playoff loss.

  1. New England Patriots
  2. New York Jets
  3. Miami Dolphins
  4. Buffalo Bills

AFC North

The Ravens defense used to be radioactive to offenses, but like all radioactive elements, eventually they pass their half-life and the decay becomes noticeable. This may not be the year that happens, but it is getting more likely with time. If the Ravens are going to make a move and snatch this division from the Steelers, that defense needs to stay healthy and give us one more season of nuclear-powered destruction. Anything short of that, and we may very well be seeing those damn Terrible Towels deep into the playoffs.

  1. Pittsburgh Steelers
  2. Baltimore Ravens
  3. Cleveland Browns
  4. Cincinnati Bengals

AFC South

This division goes to the Texans by default. Tennessee has a new head coach, and I have no faith that Matt Hasselbeck is the cure to all that ailed the Titans. Jacksonville is just plain bad, and I can’t sell on the Colts fast enough. If you saw Indianapolis in the pre-season, you saw the lack of Peyton Manning is only one problem this team has. The offensive line couldn’t block a hat, the defense acts more like the express lane at the toll-booth, and head coach Jim Caldwell couldn’t find his balls with both hands. However, in all fairness, it’s not like the Texans have ever shown they know where their balls are either; they’ve never once showed they have what it takes to win.

  1. Houston Texans
  2. Tennessee Titans
  3. Indianapolis Colts
  4. Jacksonville Jaguars

AFC West

Here’s another default situation that just drives me nuts. Every year, I get sucked in by the Chargers, only to watch them underperform. I honestly wish I could say with confidence San Diego can’t win this division, but who else can? The Raiders didn’t lose a division game last year, but they also have a new head coach, question marks all over the roster, and the usual Raider drama. The Chiefs showed what they were in that seal-clubbing they took at the hands of the Ravens in the playoff last season, and they didn’t get better since then. Do I even need to mention the Denver Tebows?

  1. San Diego Chargers
  2. Oakland Raiders
  3. Kansas City Chiefs
  4. Denver Broncos

NFC East

We could call this division the NFC Over-Rated. I swear to god, the next person who refers to the Eagles as “dream team” will get kicked in the neck (I say this as a lifelong Eagles fan). They have some serious issues on the offensive line, and I will give you even money Michael Vick proves to be a bust on that big contract he just got. Don’t forget he got the crap beaten out of him last season and lost five games due to injury, plus he got progressively worse as the season went on. Not to mention he is age-wise already north of 30, and I don’t know of too many athletes that aged like wine; running quarterbacks age like milk.

Then there’s the Cowboys. To buy this team, I need to do two things that make me nervous. First, I have to buy Tony Romo as a quarterback who can win a game that means something; that’s compounded by the fact he plays behind an offensive line that at times can look like five matadors in silver and blue. Secondly, I need to see head coach Jason Garrett take this team out of the gate as “the man;” last year I suspect he got a bump in performance out of that team just for not being fat Bob Newhart Wade Phillips.

As far as the Giants are concerned…well, let’s just say the difference between Tony Romo and Eli Manning is pure, uncut luck. Without one David Tyree catch against his helmet as the best possible time, we are likely dogging the drunken, non-misshapen-headed Manning as badly as we dog Romo now. Besides, that one catch lengthens the time before I will see Tom Coughlin standing by a freeway on-ramp holding a sign which says “will be an asshole for food.”

One of these quarterbacks is probably not a homosexual. The other is Eli Manning.

The only thing for sure about this division is that the Redskins will be a vortex of inter-galactic suckittude; the kind that generates such a gravitational pull it threatens to collapse under its own mass.

  1. Philadelphia Eagles
  2. New York Giants
  3. Dallas Cowboys
  4. Washington Redskins

NFC North

The Packers return better as defending champs not because they added tons of talent in the off-season; rather because they are entering with all the talent they lost due to injury. Let’s face it, the 2010 Packers were so beat up last year they looked like the battered women’s shelter by Mike Tyson’s house. If they can learn to slip that “I’m off my Lithium again” left-hook the NFL season can throw, the Packers will prove to be more than a Buster Douglas-type one-trick pony.

Meanwhile, three hours to the south lies the enigma known as the Chicago Bears. How can a team have so many ex-head coaches on its staff (Mike Martz, Rod Marinelli, and Mike Tice) and not know that a key to a successful offense is not letting the other team turn their quarterback into lawn mulch? It is easy to beat on Jay Cutler, but’s let’s be fair, he could sue his offensive line for non-support. If there’s a guy in Chicago who should be getting called out, it’ s Lovie Smith. He’s done the least with the most talent of nearly any coach in this league, and yet his job never seems to be in danger. One can make an argument that a coach who didn’t have his head up his ass could have won two Super Bowls with the Bears during the Lovie regime, but nobody ever seems to mention that…

If Wal-Mart made a cheap, Guatemalan-made version of the New York Jets, it might just be the Detroit Lions. Let’s look at the common components:

  • A team that will likely have a bone-shattering defense
  • A team designed around a “ball-control” offense
  • A team with a young quarterback who needs to prove he’s the real deal
This will be the first year of the post-Favre debacle in Minnesota; an era that will be marked by 6-win seasons and a continued failure to understand the value of the quarterback position and the talent required to make a winner.
  1. Green Bay Packers
  2. Chicago Bears
  3. Detroit Lions
  4. Minnesota Vikings

NFC South

The NFL Lockout really was a cover story so Drew Brees could hang out with Seal Team 6 and waste some bad guys.

The Saints may very well be the most complete offense in the NFC. Drew Brees and Sean Payton make the brainiest quarterback-coach combination since Joe Montana and Bill Walsh. Not only did the running game get better simply by the subtraction of Reggie StolenHeisman-KardashianReject,  the addition of running back Mark Ingram and “I’m gonna smash you in the mouth” center Olin Kreutz, makes for a physical ground game to go with the Brees and Company Flying Circus.

Every since draft day, we’ve known the Falcons think they are “that one piece away,” and they think that piece is wide receiver Julio Jones. Honestly, I would be more concerned about the impending breakdown of running back Michael Turner; in the past few seasons he’s touched more balls than the lady who does the lottery drawings.

  1. New Orleans Saints
  2. Atlanta Falcons
  3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  4. Carolina Panthers

NFC West

Welcome to the NFC 7-9 Division, or as I like to call it, the “Somebody’s got to win it” Division. Honestly, I loved all the belly aching that went on about how a team with a losing record shouldn’t be in the playoffs despite the fact the SeaHacks won under the architecture provided, and the people who bitched the loudest about the NFL playoff system are the same ones who beat on college football for not having a playoff. Plus, it was these very same people who bitched about my solution for the college playoff issue who stole the line form the “Poll and Bowl” crowd about this being about the “best teams, not just those who win a bad division.”

That was until the SeaHacks knocked out the Saints. Then it all stopped. It really doesn’t matter, because one of these teams will be in the playoffs whether you like it or not.

  1. St. Louis Rams
  2. Arizona Cardinals
  3. San Francisco 49ers
  4. Seattle Seahawks

Overall Rankings

  1. New England Patriots
  2. Green Bay Packers
  3. Philadelphia Eagles
  4. Pittsburgh Steelers
  5. New York Jets
  6. New Orleans Saints
  7. San Diego Chargers
  8. Atlanta Falcons
  9. Baltimore Ravens
  10. New York Giants
  11. Houston Texans
  12. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  13. Dallas Cowboys
  14. Chicago Bears
  15. Miami Dolphins
  16. St. Louis Rams
  17. Tennessee Titans
  18. Detroit Lions
  19. Indianapolis Colts
  20. Arizona Cardinals
  21. Oakland Raiders
  22. Cleveland Browns
  23. Kansas City Chiefs
  24. Jacksonville Jaguars
  25. Seattle Seahawks
  26. Minnesota Vikings
  27. San Francisco 49’ers
  28. Buffalo Bills
  29. Denver Broncos
  30. Cincinnati Bengals
  31. Washington Redskins
  32. Carolina Panthers

Great Moments in the History of Paper Bags

If you are of my ethnic construct and age, you likely know the term “Paper Bag Test.”  Sports has a “paper bag test” all its own, and it is just as unflattering. In this case, the paper bag was used to hide being a fan of a dreadful organization. The following is a list of the great “paper bag” teams of all time.

11) New Orleans Saints

Granted, the Saints won the Super Bowl last year, but it’s impossible to create a list of “Paper Bag Franchises” without including the team whose fans invented the idea of using the  bag to show their disgust.  The rumor is that a Saints’ fan was inspired by The Gong Show’s Unknown Comic, and used the shtick to protest the Saints’ 1-15 season by adorning a bag.

10) Detroit Lions

Where do you start with the epic failure known as the Lions? Other than the Barry Sanders era (in which they were supremely mediocre), they have largely defined failure for a half-century. After going a decade without making a playoff appearance, the Lions sank to an 0-16 mark in 2008.  Frankly, the whole city ought to wear a bag.

9) New York Knicks

This another team that doesn’t stink right this minute (wait, let me check the standings…), but that’s largely because they don’t have Isiah Thomas and Stephon Marbury repeatedly captaining the HMS Knick-tanic into the iceberg.  Don’t forget it was just a few short years ago the Knicks were so bad often started booing before the end of the first quarter.  Boy they did boo…they booed players, coaches, referees, performers, the other team’s players…after the game they went to the closest hospital and booed surgeries.

8 ) New York Mets

The Mets are the rich guy who keeps marrying the “gold digger” woman as therefore keeps himself in a consistent state of Pathetic. Just look at the amount of money the Mets have spent on free agents in the past 20 years, and look the amount of success they’ve had in that time. The highlight:  September 2007, when the Mets held a seven-game division lead over the Philadelphia Phillies with just 17 games to play, which led to one of the most epic collapses in baseball history.  How did that happen? Because they are the Mets.

7) Cleveland Browns

How frustrating must it be as a Browns’ fan? Your original team gets spirited off to Baltimore only to become a top-flight NFL organization. Meanwhile, you get a replacement team that has spent the better part of the last decade looking like a fraternity touch football team deep into its third keg of beer.  Browns fans got so frustrated with their franchise they used an appearance on Monday Night Football to try and get the attention of team owner Randy Lerner. It worked and two fans got face time with him to discuss the future of the team. Let’s just hope they took their bags off when they did it.

6) Milwaukee Bucks

What can you say about a team that hasn’t won a playoff series in a decade in a league where even teams that aren’t in the damn league can get into the playoffs?  It can be summed nicely in the picture above, a fan was wearing a paper bag and a jersey of a player who had departed the team a season earlier. Fear the Deer, my ass.

5) Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Here’s a team that looks like it may have a non-suck future, and has won a Super Bowl in the not-all-that-distant past. But since then, it has ejected its superstar players and its marquee head coach since that championship in 2003. Before that win, this team was best known for its “creamsicle” colored uniforms, its 0-26 start as an NFL franchise, and some of the best sports quotes ever.

4) Atlanta Falcons

Much like the Buccaneers, this team has a possible non-suck future, but definitely has a suck past. You likely remember their lone Super Bowl appearance in 1999 more for Eugene Robinson turning it into his own personal Hooker-palooza. More recently, this teams failure bona fides include head coach Bobby Petrino skipping out on the team halfway through the season in 2007, followed by Michael Vick going to jail in 2008.

3) Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs are like a woman that was hot thirty years ago, but still thinks she’s “got it” despite the fact her breasts are now in asynchronous orbit around her knees. Len Dawson and Hank Stram was a long time ago; there’s a reason the Chiefs are now the proud owner of the NFL’s longest playoff losing streak.  If that weren’t enough, note the securing system this fan has rigged, likely figuring that bag may need to be in place for a while.

2) Cincinnati Bengals

The only thing more frustrating than being a Detroit Lions’ fan is being a Cincinnati Bengals fan. Why? Because the Bengals every once in a while look like a real football team, but then give you the “Lucy holding the football for Charlie Brown” treatment. And just like Charlie Brown, those suckers that fill Paul Brown Stadium fall for it every fucking time. But these guys know who the Bungles really are.

1) Washington Nationals

The poor Nationals…they really are the team nobody wanted. Born as the Montreal Expos in1969, they consistently drew about 9 fans per game despite the fact many of those Expos teams sported several top-notch players (Hall of Famers Gary Carter and Andre Dawson for openers). Since moving to D.C. in 2005, the Gnats have finished higher than last place just once.

The NFL Playoffs – The Definitive Dubsism Oddsmaker’s View

1) New England Patriots

Why They Can Win:

If you ever needed proof the Patriots are a dynasty like the Steelers of the 70’s and 49ers of the 80’s, the fact that I get violent nausea just mentioning Tom Brady or Bill Belichick should tel the tale. In comparison, just mentioning the New York Yankess cranks me another notch toward fatal rectal cancer. What really drives me nuts is this may be the most impressive season of all in this current run.  They made a star out of that munchkin Danny Woodhead. They traded (speaking of cancer) Randy Moss.  They can’t run the ball and their defense couldn’t stop a Pop Warner team, yet somehow they are 14-2 record. I just can’t see this team losing right now.

Why They Can’t Win:

Either Tom Brady will finally have an episode of Cutler Syndrome, or the defense will prove to be the Achilles’ heel it looks to be.

Odds of Winning: 2 to 1

2) Pittsburgh Steelers

Why They Can Win:

The “Big Ben” episode from the beginning of the season seems to be ancient history, and this team is very quietly playing like the elite team they are, even if they are on the “Rodney Dangerfield” list for not getting any respect.

Why They Can’t Win:

This team can win without Ben Roethlisberger. This team can win without a lot of people; Troy Polamalu isn’t one of them. The strength of this team is its defense, and Polamalu is the backbone of the entire unti. Without him, the Steelers become the Aluminumers.

Odds of Winning: 3 to 1

3) Philadelphia Eagles

Why They Can Win:

Take a coin out of your pocket. This coin represents the streakiness of the Philadelphia Eagles. Flip the coin. Heads, Eagles win.  A month ago, I had this team as the best in the NFC,  but that complete lack of consistency drives me batshit crazy.

Why They Can’t Win:

Flip that coin Again. Shit, Tales.

Michael Vick is easily my favorite player to watch in the NFL; he is fucking electrifying to watch. Between him and Jeremy Maclin, DeSean Jackson, and LeSean McCoy, this may be the fastest offense I’ve ever seen.

Flip that coin again. Goddamnit, tales again.

Odds of Winning: 3 to 1

4) Baltimore Ravens

Why They Can Win:

If you know the difference between Target and WalMart, then you know the difference between the Steelers and the Ravens. The shopping carts are little cleaner and they roll a little straighter at Target, but you get better prices at WalMart. The Baltimore Ravens are WalMart, and nobody loves to save a buck more than a Hot-Pocket eating blogger.

Why They Can’t Win:

Three things stand in this team’s way: Joe Flacco’s consistency, the fact they didn’t win the AFC North; it will be difficult for them to win three tough games in a row, and that old guy that hands out the shopping carts at the door.

Odds of Winning: 5 to 1

5) New Orleans Saints

Why They Can Win:

As goes Drew Brees, so go the Saints. But this season, New Orleans has been the scene of a Robert Louis Stevenson novel, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Brees. Sometmes this season, it seems Drew drank the concoction and became this ham-fisted monster, tossing picks at a near Favrian clip. If Drew Brees doesn’t give away the football, the Saints are dangerous.

Why They Can’t Win:

The complete absence of a running game now that Pierre Thomas and Christopher Ivory are both out…and the fact there hasn’t been another hurricane so everybody will feel sorry for them.

Odds of Winning: 6 to 1

6) Green Bay Packers

Why They Can Win:

In short,  three reasons: Aaron Rodgers, who once he wins his first playoff game may just win three more, a superb vertical passing game, and a play-making ball-hawk defense.

Why They Can’t Win:

In what is clearly becoming a theme here, the Packers may be the purest example of the “can’t really run” team. It’s like everybody suddenly thought the “Dan Marino” model was the way to go. It’s like everybody forgot how many championships Marino won

Odds of Winning: 8 to 1

7) Atlanta Falcons

Why They Can Win:

Atlanta may be the most complete and balanced team in this tournament, and they easily could be rated much higher.  The most  recent loss to the Saints just seems like too much of a warning sign there’s a demon out there which will present itself during a play-off game.

Why They Can’t Win:

Matt Ryan is a heady quarterback who plays so intelligently, and while those comparisons to Peyton Manning very well may be accurate, Ryan has yet to show himself on that level in a big game. If he does, expect the Falcons to fold because Manning has always been a terrible “big game” quarterback; Manning’s only Super Bowl win comes from Lovie Smith’s refusal to get Rex Grossman off the field. Eventually, I think Ryan will prove to be a “big-game” quarterback, I’m just not sold this is the year.

Odds of Winning: 10 to 1

8 ) Chicago Bears

Why They Can Win:

To be honest, I don’t have a good answer for this. Granted, when Jay Cutler is on, he makes the Bears look like a legitimate contender. But he’s never been “on” for more than two games in a row. Plus, he is a colossal douchebag. Combined with the dumbest coach who never seems to be on the hot seat,  Lovie “Rex Grossman is my guy” Smith, I just can’t think of a single reason why the Bears should be taken seriously, except for Devin “Stop Kicking to Him” Hester.

Why They Can’t Win:

They are the worst 11-5 team I’ve ever seen – they define over-rated. Brian Urlacher is the face of this franchise, and he doesn’t just define over-rated, he is the Pope and Infallible Leader of the Church of Over-rated.  To Cutler’s credit, somehow he has managed to stay alive behind an offensive line comprised of Olin Kreutz and four turnstiles, but let’s not forget this: To all you people who think the Bears are for real and think the Seahawks don’t belong in the playoffs, remember the SeaHacks beat the Bears in October.

Odds of Winning: 12 to 1

9) New York Jets

Why They Can Win:

The Jets are still very bold and still have playmakers.  Rex Ryan is one those guys that makes anything possible.

Why They Can’t Win:

Because they have yet to back up all their trash-talk. Don’t get me wrong, I love Rex Ryan, but he needs to put up or shut up. If this team can get past either Pittsburgh and/or New England, they will win it all. But they have yet to show me they have the stones to make the move from good to great.

Odds of Winning: 15 to 1

10) Kansas City Chiefs

Why They Can Win:

There is an inviolable rule about play-off football: never count out a team that can a) run the ball and b) play defense. This is the recipe the Chefs used to get this far, and with Matt Cassel playing like a legitimate NFL quarterback, Kansas City can be that team that has a “puncher’s chance.”

Why They Can’t Win:

Out of their ten wins, the Chiefs beat one playoff team (Seattle). They won a division so bad the Oakland Raiders went 6-0 in divisional games and couldn’t make the playoffs; the Chiefs could only manage a 2-4 record in the AFC West. It is also those deficiencies that make me suspect of the Chiefs #1 ranked running game; they racked up a lot of stats against teams like Oakland, Denver, Houston, Buffalo, and San Francisco.

Odds of Winning: 20 to 1

11) Indianapolis Colts

Why They Can Win:

Because Peyton Manning is one of the greatest players in the history on the NFL, and he isn’t far enough past his prime to be discounted.

Why They Can’t Win:

Because Peyton Manning is all they have. The Colts can’t run the ball, and they can’t stop anybody. Factor in all the injuries this team has suffered, and it becomes clear the Dolts’ days are numbered. In many respects, this might be the worst team in the play-offs despite all the moaning about the Seahawks 7-9 record.  All the Colts can do is throw the ball; the Seahawks can run and have shows glimpses of the ability to play defense, albeit not often enough.

Odds of Winning: 25 to 1

12) Seattle Seahawks

Why They Can Win:

Everybody else’s plane could crash, there could be a plague of locusts, ther could be a massive outbreak of food poisoning from the people who do all the NFL food handling…you don’t know, it could happen.

Why They Can’t Win:

To put it in gambling terms, The SeaHacks are drawing to an inside straight three times over.  Well, the first draw isn’t that long; it is concievable Seattle could win their home game against the Saints. New Orleans is beat up, it depends on which quarterback shows up, Dr. Brees or Mr. Hyde;  and Qwest Field is notoriously rough on visiting teams. But Seattle knows how to lose, as they have done it nine times this year, and none of those were closer than 16 points.

Odds of Winning: 75 to 1

The Dubsism NFL Power Rankings: The Verge of the Playoffs Edition

Now that we have 13 weeks of the NFL season behind us,  it time to take a hard look at what we thought would happen versus what did. In other words, it is time for another one of those exercises we love here at Dubsism about how wrong we were. The problem is we were right about a lot of stuff as well…

Rankings By Division

Teams in blue we project as division winners, teams in green as wild cards.

AFC East

What We Thought:

  1. New York Jets
  2. New England Patriots
  3. Miami Dolphins
  4. Buffalo Bills

How It Is Now:

  1. New England (Overall #1)
  2. New York Jets (Overall #9)
  3. Miami (Overall #13)
  4. Buffalo (Overall #31)

“While this is the Jets’ division to lose, both the Patriots and the Dolphins stand ready to snatch it away should they stumble.”

More like the Jets would stumble, just in time for the Patriots to show they are the best team in the league.

AFC North

What We Thought:

  1. Baltimore Ravens
  2. Pittsburgh Steelers
  3. Cincinnati Bengals
  4. Cleveland Browns

How It Is Now:

  1. Pittsburgh (Overall #2)
  2. Baltimore (Overall #4)
  3. Cleveland Overall #21)
  4. Cincinnati (Overall #29)

The Steelers and the Ravens will see each other again come playoff time. Cleveland plays fundamental if not flashy football. But how right were we about the Bengals?

“This leads us to the team most likely to disappoint; the Cincinnati Bengals. The Queen City Kitties have been garnering a lot of buzz around Terrell Owens, Ochocinco, but this comes from the same mentality that worships the over-the-hill Brett Favre. It makes sense though, because T-Old and King Brett I have some things in common: they’re way past their prime, they are cancers in the locker room (when they actually show up), and they haven’t won anything in years. Ultimately, the fate of the Bengals falls on the performance of the offense. The defense is one of the best in the league, but if the offense doesn’t perform after the team invested in Antonio Bryant, Jermaine Gresham, plus two wide receivers drafted in the third and sixth rounds, heads will roll in Cincinnati. And at the end of the day, it will all be for not if Cedric Benson doesn’t repeat his solid 2009 season on the ground.”

It has GOT to be a kiss of death when your best offensive player is arguably a 75-year old Terrell Owens.

AFC South

What We Thought:

  1. Tennessee Titans
  2. Indianapolis Colts
  3. Houston Texans
  4. Jacksonville Jaguars

How It Is Now:

  1. Jacksonville (Overall #12)
  2. Indianapolis (Overall #14)
  3. Houston (Overall #16)
  4. Tennessee (Overall #23)

We might as well call this the Flip-Flop Division; we knew the Colts were too soft to win, but we had no idea Tennessee would implode as badly as they did, nor did we see signs of life in the Jacksonville Jaguars.

AFC West

What We Thought:

  1. San Diego Chargers
  2. Denver Broncos
  3. Oakland Raiders
  4. Kansas City Chiefs

How It Is Now:

  1. Kansas City (Overall #18)
  2. San Diego (Overall #17)
  3. Oakland (Overall #19)
  4. Denver (Overall #25)

What a train wreck this division is…Kansas City has just been exposed to be nothing without Matt Cassel, ex-Broncos coach JoshMcDaniels has already got the gas pipe, and Charges coach Norv Turner has to be next unless that team makes a miracle run deep into the playoffs. That likely isn’t going to happen because whoever wins this mess ultimately loses to the first good team they face in January.

NFC East

What We Thought:

  1. Dallas Cowboys
  2. New York Giants
  3. Philadelphia Eagles
  4. Washington Redskins

How It Is Now:

  1. Philadelphia (Overall #7)
  2. N.Y. Giants (Overall #10)
  3. Washington (Overall #28)
  4. Dallas (Overall #15)

This is what happens when you make predictions. I had the Dallas Cowboys as the class of this division, possibly even of the entire NFC.  Thanks, Wade Phillips.  The fact that Jason Garrett has this team looking like it should really is an indictment of Phillips’ abilities as a head coach. I had given my beloved Philadelphia Eagles up for dead, and I think that prognostication would be correct if Kevin Kolb were still running the offense. Of course, the completely dreadful Deadskins are only in third place because of the early cratering of the Cowboys.

NFC NorthWhat We Thought:

  1. Green Bay Packers
  2. Minnesota Vikings
  3. Chicago Bears
  4. Detroit Lions

How It Is Now:

  1. Chicago (Overall #8)
  2. Green Bay (Overall #6)
  3. Minnesota (Overall #21)
  4. Detroit (Overall #28)

Somehow, the Bears succeed despite themselves. They are quarterbacked by Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Cutler; they have a highly-ranked defense that can give up 30 points in the blink of an eye.  The Packers are too injured to play out the string, and nobody is all that surprised that the Vikings became a soap-opera that digested itself.

NFC South

What We Thought:

  1. New Orleans Saints
  2. Atlanta Falcons
  3. Carolina Panthers
  4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

How It Is Now:

  1. Atlanta (Overall #3)
  2. New Orleans (Overall #5)
  3. Tampa Bay (Overall #11)
  4. Carolina (Overall #32)

The Falcons didn’t really surprise us. The Saints didn’t really surprise us. Tampa Bay in the playoffs nearly gave us a pants-shitting moment. As did the fact this is arguably the best division in football. By our estimation, it is the only one with three top-12 teams, and it is the only one that will put three teams in the post-season. We thought that would be the AFC North, but that’s also why we buy our underwear in bulk at Sam’s Club.

NFC West

What We Thought:

  1. San Francisco 49ers
  2. Arizona Cardinals
  3. Seattle Seahawks
  4. St. Louis Rams

How It Is Now:

  1. St. Louis (Overall #20)
  2. Seattle (Overall # 22)
  3. San Francisco (Overall #26)
  4. Arizona (Overall #27)

Because somebody has to, I guess…Every possibility exists that the team who wins this division won’t have a winning record. Then we will have to listen to the same yahoos who cry that college football needs a playoff system cry about how playoffs don’t work because some team with a better record didn’t get in. Worse yet: The Rams have all the hallmarks of a team that could surprise somebody in the playoffs.

Overall Rankings

  1. New England Patriots  ↑10 (Pre-season Rank #11)
  2. Pittsburgh Steelers ↑11 (Pre-season Rank #13)
  3. Atlanta Falcons ↑14 (Pre-season Rank #17)
  4. Baltimore Ravens ↑1 (Pre-Season Rank #5)
  5. New Orleans Saints ↓4 (Pre-sesan Rank #1)
  6. Green Bay Packers ↔ (Pre-season Rank #6)
  7. Philadelphia Eagles ↑7 (Pre-season Rank #14)
  8. Chicago Bears ↑14 (Pre-season Rank #22)
  9. New York Jets ↓7 (Pre-season Rank #2)
  10. New York Giants ↑2 (Pre-season Rank #12)
  11. Tampa Bay Buccaneers ↑18 (Pre-season Rank #29)
  12. Jacksonville Jaguars ↑14 (Pre-season Rank #26)
  13. Miami Dolphins ↑6 (Pre-season Rank #19)
  14. Indianapolis Colts ↓6 (Pre-season Rank #8)
  15. Dallas Cowboys ↓11 (Pre-season Rank #4)
  16. Houston Texans ↑2 (Pre-season Rank #18)
  17. San Diego Chargers ↓14 (Pre-season Rank #3)
  18. Kansas City Chiefs ↑12 (Pre-season Rank #30)
  19. Oakland Raiders ↑8 (Pre-season Rank #27)
  20. St. Louis Rams ↑12 (Pre-season Rank #32)
  21. Cleveland Browns ↑10 (Pre-season Rank #31)
  22. Seattle Seahawks ↑2 (Pre-season Rank #24)
  23. Tennessee Titans ↓16 (Pre-season Rank #7)
  24. Minnesota Vikings ↓15 (Pre-season Rank #9)
  25. Denver Broncos ↓10 (Pre-season Rank #15)
  26. San Francisco 49′ers ↓10 (Pre-season Rank #16)
  27. Arizona Cardinals ↓11 (Pre-season Rank #16)
  28. Washington Redskins ↓5 (Pre-season Rank #23)
  29. Cincinnati Bengals ↓9 (Pre-season Rank #20)
  30. Detroit Lions ↓2 (Pre-season Rank #28)
  31. Buffalo Bills ↓6 (Pre-season #25)
  32. Carolina Panthers ↓11 (Pre-season Rank #21)

The Dubsism 2010 Pre-Season NFL Power Rankings

Rankings by Division

AFC East

Any way you slice it, the Jets made a statement during last season’s playoff win in San Diego. The scary part is they have built on that team since then. Granted, they need to get the holdout situation with Darelle Revis resolved, but once they do, it will be very difficult for teams to throw the ball against a defense with two shutdown corners and #1 draft pick waiting in the wings. Meanwhile, Mark Sanchez is on the verge of being the next breakout star in this league, and the Jets have put a solid line in front of him and a myriad of weapons around him.

Tyrannosaurus Rex may be ready to devour the NFL.

While this is the Jets’ division to lose, both the Patriots and the Dolphins stand ready to snatch it away should they stumble.  Tom Brady is still Tom Brady even after the ACL injury, Randy Moss seems to have a few more reps left in the tank, and Wes Welker will return by some point in September.  They also added some depth at the tight end position and in the secondary. However, Miami also made plenty of acquisitions on both sides of the ball. Brandon Marshall becomes the  true downfield threat Chad Henne needed to complete the passing game. Add that to running back Ronnie Brown and a solid offensive line anchored by Jake Long, and the ‘Phins sport a well-balanced offense that will give headaches to defensive coordinators across the league.

  1. New York Jets
  2. New England Patriots
  3. Miami Dolphins
  4. Buffalo Bills

AFC North

Even though the Baltimore Ravens have started resembling a MASH unit, they have too much talent and depth not to whether a few injuries.  The loss of Domonique Foxworth brings questions, and they really need a healthy Ed Reed, but this team no longer relies solely on that fearsome defense. With offseason additions Anquan Boldin and Donte’ Stallworth, the Ravens will likely supplant the Vikings as the most interesting offense wearing purple.

The Steelers are likely the most balanced team in this league with or without Ben Roethlisberger. While it seems most probable that Big Ben’s suspension will be shortened from six to four games, the period Pittsburgh has to be without him may make or break their season.

This leads us to the team most likely to dissappoint; the Cincinnati Bengals. The Queen City Kitties have been garnering a lot of buzz around Terrell Owens, Ochocinco, but this comes from the same mentality that worships the over-the-hill Brett Favre. It makes sense though, because T-Old and King Brett I have some things in common: they’re way past their prime, they are cancers in the locker room (when they actually show up), and they haven’t won anything in years. Ultimately, the fate of the Bengals falls on the performance of the offense. The defense is one of the best in the league, but if the offense doesn’t perform after the team invested in Antonio Bryant, Jermaine Gresham, plus two wide receivers drafted in the third and sixth rounds, heads will roll in Cincinnati. And at the end of the day, it will all be for not if Cedric Benson doesn’t repeat his solid 2009 season on the ground.

  1. Baltimore Ravens
  2. Pittsburgh Steelers
  3. Cincinnati Bengals
  4. Cleveland Browns

If Colt McCoy starts for the Browns, he may get even more familiar with this position.

AFC South

FACT: The Colts are the defending AFC Champions and are returning most of the roster. FACT: Peyton Manning is the best quarterback in the league; the only one who gives his team a chance to win every time he touches the ball.  FACT: The Colts have developed a culture of winning while becoming one the NFL’s model franchises.

So why am I not buying the Colts?

FACT: The offensive live is old and largely mediocre. FACT: The Colts running game is a joke. FACT: The defense has some star power, but is largely a middle-of-the-pack unit that isn’t capable of dominating a ball game if it needs to. In other words, for the Colts run of 12-win seasons is to continue, a lot of “ifs” have to break the right way, and it may just be the number of “ifs” has finally surpassed Manning’s ability to overcome them.

Even Peyton Manning knows he can only audible out of a fixed amount of problems.

Plus, the Colts are going to face a host of teams in their own division that historically play them tough. The Titans got rid of some age (replacing Kyle Vanden Bosch with first-round pick Derrick Morgan) while performing a bit of  “addition by subtraction” by getting rid of chronic under-performer LenDale White.  Once the Titans combine that with a full season of the game-changing Vince Young we saw in 2009 and the most interesting weapon in the league in Chris Johnson, they can easily give the Colts fits.

Don’t sleep on the Texans, either. This team could easily be a dark horse in the AFC. With Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson form the core of one of the league’s best high-octane offenses, if they can rekindle the running game, they will provide more than one surprise during the coming season. The big question mark will be the progression of the defense. While it boasts young stars like Mario Williams and Brian Cushing, they did lose Dunta Robinson in the off-season, and they get to face offenses like the Cowboys, Giants, Chargers, Ravens, plus the Titans and the Colts twice.

  1. Tennessee Titans
  2. Indianapolis Colts
  3. Houston Texans
  4. Jacksonville Jaguars

AFC West

While the Chargers do face some pre-season holdout issues, and the transition to the post-LaDanian Tomlinson era has begun, but this is still one of the best squads in the NFL. Philip Rivers is a legitimate franchise quarterback even if he gets no respect, Antonio Gates is the league’s best tight end, and Malcolm Floyd is more than ready to become River’s #1 target. Now, the Chargers just need to find a way to keep playoff games off the foot of Nate Kaeding.

Meanwhile in Denver, Josh McDaniels is clearly building a team around guys who are not a pain in the ass. So far, he’s exiled (probably correctly) Jay Cutler to the NFL’s version of Ice Planet Hoth, he shipped Brandon Marshall to Miami, while adding drunk-but-quiet Kyle Orton. Then there’s this year’s draft where McDaniels passed over bad-reputation wide receiver Dez Bryant for Demaryius Thomas. Then there was the drafting of Saint Tebow.

Can Saint Tebow and the Holy Orton play savior for Josh McDaniels?

But don’t forget that Tebow won a national championship at Florida while playing second fiddle at quarterback to the oft-maligned Chris Leak. For some reason, Kyle Orton is a guy who can’t get any love anywhere he goes, despite the fact that he wins football games wherever he goes. Whether or not Tebow sees the field this season matters little. What matters is this season when Orton mentors the young Saint to be an NFL quarterback is also a make or break proposition for Josh McDaniels.

  1. San Diego Chargers
  2. Denver Broncos
  3. Oakland Raiders
  4. Kansas City Chiefs

NFC East

On paper, the Cowboys offer one the most talented teams in the league. Too bad they don’t play the games on paper. Frankly, I’m convinced that the Cowboys as an organization are bi-polar. This is a team that can look dominant against Philadelphia team that was nearly a #2 seed in the NFC last year (more on why those days are over in a bit) and yet get destroyed by the more pretender-than-contender Vikings. Despite that inconsistency, Dallas just has too much talent on the roster not to be recognized as one of the top squads in the NFC. Hopefully, the soap opera that is the Cowboys is on hiatus as indicated by the shockingly silent off-season; this team can either win football games or be drama queens. It can not do both.

This way, if the Cowboys don't win, at least Wade Phillips won't see the sniper hired by Jerry Jones.

If Dez Bryant can provide a third viable option for the passing game and if Tony Romo can play leader and mitigate the aforementioned wackiness from which this team suffers, there are not very many teams in the conference that could keep the Cowboys out of Super Bowl. Of course, one of those teams could be the Cowboys, especially if they don’t address two areas. In general, the offensive line needs to understand that keeping Romo alive is a team function, particularly with the departure of left tackle Flozell Adams. The other soft spot is the secondary; it is time for Mike Jenkins to step up and lead that unit into providing an effective pass-defense.

Meanwhile, the Giants will be depending on their stockpile of defensive linemen to ease the pressure on a rebuilt secondary, one that depends on a healthy Kenny Phillips and the newly acquired Antrelle Rolle to stop the bleeding from last season. The odds that the Eagles will figure in the standings in this division stand directly in between “slim” and “none.” Read that as “none” for the Redskins.

The simple fact is that the Eagles are completely gambling on their young quarterback Kevin Kolb. You may think they are rebuilding, I may think they are rebuilding, the world may think they are rebuilding, but the Eagles seem to be in a complete state of denial. The post McNabb/Westbrook era offers a ton of uncertainties on offense, but anybody wearing green in Philadelphia seems to be sticking to the party line. The coaching staff seem convinced that Kolb was ready for full-time action last season, and some whisper that he might be a better fit in Andy Reid’s offense than Donovan McNabb himself.  I guess September will tell all.

  1. Dallas Cowboys
  2. New York Giants
  3. Philadelphia Eagles
  4. Washington Redskins

See, Jerry Jones just wants to shoot people.

NFC North

The Packer offense may be the best in the conference. When you watch the development this squad showed between game 4 and game 10 of last season coupled with the additions made during the off-season, it is hard not to picture Green Bay along side the Cowboys and the Saints as the class of the NFC. The offensive line that was Swiss cheese in September became a stone wall in December, a wall that only got mightier with the addition of first-round tackle Bryan Bulaga.

There is a concern that the loss of Aaron Kampman, the suspension of Johnny Jolly, and the starting-to-get-up-there age of the secondary leaves too many questions for a contender. First of all, those issues aren’t likely to spell a fatal drop-off for a defense that was ranked second in the entire league last year. More importantly, they are just question, not the facts that doom the Vikings.

FACT: The Vikings find themselves stuck in yet another soap opera, no thanks to the drama queen quarterback for whom they’ve mortgaged their future. FACT: Brett Favre joined a division-winning team and transformed it into a division-winning team. FACT: The Vikings did nothing to address the weaknesses which cost them a trip to the Super Bowl.

We all know the bullshit Brett Favre puts teams through every off-season now. It’s all just that…bullshit. But the big problem the Vikings don’t seem ready to address is that all their current eggs and all their future eggs are in Favre’s basket; a basket being bet on a Super Bowl championship. But the Vikings weren’t a Super Bowl-worthy team last year, and they’ve regressed in the off-season. The Viking running game rates only in the middle of the pack despite the fact it featured two stud-caliber running backs. Of the two, only Adrian Peterson remains, and while Peterson is a physical specimen the likes of which only come along once a generation, it all goes for naught if he can’t stop putting the ball on the ground.

But the real reason this team can’t run the football is because as a unit, the offensive line sucks out loud. Steve Hutchison is the real deal at guard,  John Sullivan and Phil Loadholt may someday be legitimate NFL players, but Bryant McKinnie and Anthony Herrera shouldn’t be allowed as grade-school crossing guards let alone NFL linemen. Viking fans love to bitch about all the “dirty” hits Favre took against the Saints; they miss the point that a good line wouldn’t let defenders get that close that often. They rest of the league saw that; it’s no coincidence the Bears and Lions both stocked up on defensive linemen. When you add all that to the fact the Vikings’ secondary is a glaring weakness that was not realistically addressed (Lito Sheppard would have been a nice addition 5 years ago), this team may have enough talent to make the playoffs, but are “one and done” at best.

  1. Green Bay Packers
  2. Minnesota Vikings
  3. Chicago Bears
  4. Detroit Lions

NFC South

One could be accused of taking the easy way out by saying the defending Super Bowl champions are the best team in the league. But let’s look at what has changed: Drew Brees is still running a high-powered offense which is returning every key contributor. On defense, the goal in the off-season was to add to an opportunistic, ball-hawking defense so as to give Brees and the offense a bit more margin for error. That mission was accomplished by signing defensive ends Alex Brown and Jimmy Wilkerson, and by drafting cornerback Patrick Robinson). Also, by keeping Darren Sharper, it is just another finger in the eye of the Vikings; a living, breathing reminder that Minnesota keeps coming up short in part due to its stupid player personnel decisions.

Not be overshadowed, but this division features another reasonably good football team. Led by Matt Ryan and Michael Turner, the Atlanta Falcons have the right combination of a high-flying offense and a defense that can allow the offense to take over games.

  1. New Orleans Saints
  2. Atlanta Falcons
  3. Carolina Panthers
  4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

What is "Fuck you, I have a Super Bowl ring and you don't?"

NFC West

One would expect a team led by Mike Singeltary to feature a bone-bruising defense, and it does. Now it seems the offense is gearing up for some smash-mouth of its own, considering the 49’ers used two first-round picks to draft a couple of man-mountains in Anthony Davis and Mike Iupati for the offensive line. With an improved line and weapons like a healthy Frank Gore, receivers Michael Crabtree and Ted Ginn, Jr., and tight end Vernon Davis, it’s “fish or cut bait” time for former #1 pick quarterback Alex Smith.

Oh, and the Cardinals after having lost a slew of key players such as Kurt Warner, Antrelle Rolle, Karlos Dansby, and Anquan Boldin, still feature talent like Beanie Wells, Early Doucet, and Larry Fitzgerald. That’s really all it takes to be the other team in this division that doesn’t suck.

  1. San Francisco 49ers
  2. Arizona Cardinals
  3. Seattle Seahawks
  4. St. Louis Rams

Overall Rankings

  1. New Orleans Saints
  2. New York Jets
  3. San Diego Chargers
  4. Dallas Cowboys
  5. Baltimore Ravens
  6. Green Bay Packers
  7. Tennessee Titans
  8. Indianapolis Colts
  9. Minnesota Vikings
  10. San Francisco 49’ers
  11. New England Patriots
  12. New York Giants
  13. Pittsburgh Steelers
  14. Philadelphia Eagles
  15. Denver Broncos
  16. Arizona Cardinals
  17. Atlanta Falcons
  18. Houston Texans
  19. Miami Dolphins
  20. Cincinnati Bengals
  21. Carolina Panthers
  22. Chicago Bears
  23. Washington Redskins
  24. Seattle Seahawks
  25. Buffalo Bills
  26. Jacksonville Jaguars
  27. Oakland Raiders
  28. Detroit Lions
  29. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  30. Kansas City Chiefs
  31. Cleveland Browns
  32. St. Louis Rams
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