Friday, January 4, 2013

Ode to the Fallen – 1st Annual NFL Year-End Review: AFC PT. 2


New England (12-4) Division Champions, Playoff Berth

This guy is ready to go.
The Patriots are to the AFC East, what a 16-year old pitcher is to the Little League World Series, what Usain Bolt would be to the Special Olympics. Long story short, it’s just freaking unfair what they’re doing at this point. They’re the defending AFC Champions and they’re one of the few teams that have a real shot at winning the Super Bowl. Tom Brady was in typical MVP form and the Patriots offense scored the 3rd most points of all time. For the first time in a long time, the Patriots seem to have real balance on offense as they ranked 7th in rushing this season. While their defense has been improved, to the tune of being ranked 9th against the run, their secondary still sucks as they ranked 29th. You can air it out pretty easily on them and teams will be looking to exploit that. I don’t think he’s as good as Aaron Rogers, but they have Tom Brady so they have a shot to beat anyone, anywhere.

Miami Dolphins (7-9) Missed Playoffs

The Dolphins weren’t horrible this year but they didn’t look too good also. They finally “seem” to have the right answer at QB which is half the battle in the NFL. Most years, Ryan Tannehill would have been really impressive, but with RG3, Luck, and Wilson making the playoffs he got overshadowed and rightfully so. Their inability to stop the pass and their inability to make big plays in the passing game was their biggest problem in 2012. In order to move up a level they have to get better, either in free agency or the draft.

New York Jets (6-10) Missed Playoffs

These two people are dragging each other down. 
The Jets really should be applauded this year because they were true pioneers in NFL history. (Stay with me because this is about to be tricky.) They were the first team in NFL history to be the league's worst team and NOT have the worst record. They were the first team to be the worst team while being THE MOST TALKED ABOUT TEAM. It was the first time that a consensus opinion in the national media was proven right. Tebow and Sanchez were a disaster together and no one outside of their locker room or team, thought it had a chance in hell of working. GM Mike Tannenbaum was fired and he had to go. He gave Mark Sanchez an extension and that alone was a “fireable” offense. He’s always drafted horribly, he didn’t make any key pickups in the offseason to improve a their “disgusting” offense and Tim Tebow was clearly a move to grab headlines from the champion New York Giants. (How bad were the Jets on offense? The game against Arizona,  final score of Jets 7, Cardinals 6, has been approved as a new kind of "enhanced interrogation technique", aka torture, to be used by the CIA.) Rex Ryan didn’t get the boot because it wouldn’t be fair to saddle some new coach with a QB like Mark Sanchez. The Jets are stuck with Mark Sanchez for the same reason unhappy husbands are with dirtbag wives, “It’s cheaper to keep her.” The Jets are in for another long season of the same ol’ same ‘ol.

Buffalo Bills (6-10) Missed Playoffs

Ho-hum, just another fired head coach and another losing season in Buffalo. Chan Gailey was never the right answer and the Bills are left wondering where to go from here. Ryan Fitzpatrick clearly isn’t the QB they thought they were getting when they gave him that massive contract extension and they really need to go in another direction. The NFL is a passing league and the Bills can’t pass the ball. They did run the ball just fine however; evident by them finishing 6th in rushing. Stopping the run was the real problem as they ranked second to last, 31st, in the league. For all the “upgrades” on the defense they made in the offseason, they really didn’t seem any better on that side of the ball. The Bills are still rebuilding and I don’t see when that “phase” stops for them.

AFC North

Baltimore Ravens (10-6) Division Champions, Playoff Berth

This team has first round lost written all over it. You want to know the number of wins over playoff teams the Ravens have this season? Two. Week one against the Bengals (You know who else won in week one? The Eagles, the Jets, the Chargers, and the Cowboys just to name a few and none of those teams made the playoffs. Winning in week one is like getting to third base with a slut, anybody can do it.) and week 3 against the Patriots. (And they needed help from the “rent-a-referees” to get that victory.) For a guy in his contract year, Joe Flacco really didn’t play like it at all. Injuries aside, I really think this teams sucks and I say the Colts pull off the upset and sends them on they’re way. You can do it Colts, just take “Lassie” out back and finish it. It’s the humane thing to do.

Cincinnati Bengals (10-6) Wildcard, Playoff Berth

I like the way this team put it together at the end of the season. They “knuckled up” in the second half of the season winning seven out of the last eight. Andy Dalton and A.J. Green give the Bengals one of the league’s best QB and receiver duos in what would otherwise be a middle of the road offensive attack. The Bengals real strength is their amazing defensive line as they finished with the second most sacks in the NFL. I wouldn’t be surprised if they faired well against the Texans o-line this weekend but something about Cincy’s a little off. Dalton’s good, but I don’t think he’s “win you a Super Bowl” good. So I think it's one and done for the Bengals in the playoffs.

Pittsburg Steelers (8-8) Missed Playoffs

This happened too much in 2012.
Didn’t it seem like Pittsburg’s defense was older? The numbers say otherwise as they finished 1st against the pass, 2nd against the rush and 1st overall. The real problem in Pittsburg is the same problem they’ve had the past few seasons; their offensive line sucks. While they only ranked 14th in terms of sacks allowed, Big Ben seemed to always be shaking off defenders or getting up from the ground every time he dropped back. Those same hits caused him to miss games which caused Pittsburg to start a backup. They lost games which later forced the Steelers to start a Roethlisberger when he was still ailing. They have a better o-line and I say they would've made the playoffs. The Steelers need to improve the running game as well to give the offense balance and take some of  the pressure off of Big Ben. Todd Haley and Roethlisberger not seeing eye-to-eye didn’t help matters either.

Cleveland Browns (5-11) Missed Playoffs

At times this season the Browns looked like a real team but they just couldn’t get over the hump. I’m not saying having a 28-year old rookie QB is a bad thing but it’s not a good thing. Trent Richardson showed flashes and I really like some of the playmakers on the defense. With a new ownership group coming into town, you knew they’d be cleaning house but even coaching and GM changes won’t fix Cleveland’s biggest problem. You know, the whole “God hating them” and all. Cheer up Cleveland you did make this. And this.

AFC South

Houston Texans (12-4) Division Champions, Playoff Berth

The Texans are to the AFC what the Falcons are to the NFC. I could literally copy and paste most of the post about Atlanta and it would hold true of the Texans. They’re a very balanced team, they have the NFL’s sack leader and defensive player of the year in J.J. Watt but I’m not in love with Matt Schaub. I don’t think he’s the type of QB that can when you a championship. (Think Tony Romo but with less talent.) I don’t like how they ended the season at all. Win one game and everybody’s going to Houston for the right to play in the Super Bowl, instead they lose two in a row and drop to the three seed. That lack of urgency has to say something about them.

Indianapolis Colts (11-5) Wildcard, Playoff Berth

Chuckstrong = One Playoff Win
Holy One Year turnaround Batman! From two wins to eleven? Enough can’t be said about the job Andrew Luck did with the Colts this year. I went into great details a few weeks ago, so I’ll keep it short here. The Colts made the tough but right decision over the offseason to let Peyton Manning go and pick up Andrew Luck. It’s strange, because in a win now league, you always got to think long-term when it comes to QBs. “Chuckstrong” doesn’t get them to the Super Bowl but it does get them a win over the Ravens. And besides, there’s no way we don’t get to see Manning vs. Luck this year. The universe wants this to happen… or at least I do.

Tennessee Titans (6-10) Missed Playoffs

A very underwhelming but expected season from the Titans. Jake Locker showed improvement but not nearly enough to get the Titans anywhere close to being in the playoffs. This is the classic case of a team needing help everywhere. (22nd in passing, 21st in rushing, 26th against the pass and 24th against the run.) There’s nothing special about the Titans or they’re QB. I also think there’s no way the Titans bring Chris Johnson back. He's due way too much money for the production he’s giving them.

Jacksonville Jaguars (2-14) Missed Playoffs.

Blaine Gabbert sucks and was a total waste of a draft pick. They have HUGE holes in every area of football on their team and there’s no RG3 or Luck on the way in this year's draft. (See, two cents.)

AFC West

Denver Broncos (13-3) Division Champions, Playoff Berth

Best move of the offseason right here.
Peyton Manning is my MVP, but you already know that, and John Elway is my executive of the year for getting him to Denver. Manning knew what he was doing by going there because Denver’s so talented they got into the playoffs last season with a guy that’ll be playing QB in the CFL next year. Yeah I know they lost to Houston, Atlanta and New England, the only real teams they faced this year but that was in the beginning of the year when they didn’t look nearly as deadly as they do now. I predicted a few weeks back they’d get the number one seed and after winning 11 straight games no team's hotter going into the playoffs. This is my pick to win it all. And remember this, when a Manning wins the Super Bowl, another one wins it the next year.

San Diego Chargers (7-9) Missed Playoffs

I can’t say anything about the Chargers because I have a family member on their team and it wouldn’t be fair, but I will say this about them firing Norv Turner… IT’S ABOUT DAMN TIME!

Oakland Raiders (4-12) Missed Playoffs

That trade for Carson Palmer looks dumber by the minute. They were banking on the year of a full training camp to help return him to the Pro Bowl caliber QB he was years ago and that ain’t happening.  Like never, ever happening. McFadden can’t stay healthy and they have no balance on offense... at all. Oakland’s a mess and I don’t see an end in sight.

Kansas City Chiefs (2-14) Missed Playoffs

The Chiefs did two things well this season. Run the ball (5th in rushing) and lose games. (2 wins and the number one pick.) I'm still trying to figure out why they hired Romeo Crennel in the first place and their quarterback situation is about as bad as Arizona’s. It looks like Andy Reid is headed here but I'm not sure why. Maybe it's that number one pick, because while Arizona did suck, they did win five games and one was over the Patriots. The Cardinals seemed a little closer than the Chiefs but that's just me. But you know if you're going to a new team, as a new head coach that is, for the most part that team sucked. Again, the next Andrew Luck or RG3 isn’t in sight, so get ready for more dark days ahead Chiefs fans.

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