With the new season almost upon us, everyone begins to think of which team will surprise and which will disappoint. To save your struggles, I’m here to help. Here are three sleepers, and three disappointments.
1. Houston Texans
Yes the Houston Texans. The team that passed on Reggie Bush for Mario Williams. The team that has never played in the postseason. Well, that’s going to change. They made huge strides last year, going 8-8. And while they play in a tough division, they have the talent to overcome that. Matt Schaub, barring injury, is a solid QB, and has Andre Johnson to throw to. Steve Slaton, the rookie out of West Virginia, is the game breaker they have lacked, and he has looked good in the preseason. The offensive line is improving. But the main part of this team is the Defense. They are led by the aforementioned Mario Williams, who could be the Defensive player of the Year. Amobi Okoye, last years first round pick, is only 20, and is bound to improve. Demeco Ryans at Middle Linebacker, is the perfect leader for this team. So yes, The Texans will make the playoffs, and will surprise some people in doing it. But not you.
2. Miami Dolphins
I do know that the Dolphins went 1-15. But that was with a different regime. The Tuna is in town. Bill Parcells brought ‘his guys’ in, with head coach Tony Sparano, and GM Jeff Ireland. He brought former Jet QB Chad Pennington, who should hold the fort until Chad Henne is ready. Ricky Williams seemed primed for a big year. Their O-Line is much improved. And their D has a ton of young talent. The team has a long way to go. And 8-8 is a huge improvement. So what can we realistically expect from them? Anywhere from 7-9 to 10-6 and a playoff berth. It seems like a stretch, but Bill Parcells knows what he is doing. And that’s why they will be better.
3.St. Louis Rams
This is all contingent on them staying injury free, something that had a lot of difficulty doing a year ago. But if they do stay healthy, they have the pieces to contend. Marc Bulger is still a great QB. Steven Jackson is one of the top 5 RBs in the league. Torry Holt can still do it. And The defense, anchored by rookie Chris Long, is underrated. In a weak NFC West, look for them to make a run. Not beat out the Seahawks, but at least give Rams fans some excitement.
1. Cleveland Browns
Everyone’s darling is not the team they thought. Their Defense looks weak, and while the Offense is still a strength, it does not seem to be the high octane attack it was last year. Part of it is being in the national spotlight for the first time since, well, ever. And they’re not used to the pressure. But that doesn’t excuse the flaws that they do have. Is Derek Anderson an One Year Wonder? And if he is, is Brady Quinn ready to play? How will Jamal Lewis respond after a career-saving year? Will Shaun Rogers play to his abilities? There are too many questions for a team that is supposed to contend.
2. Tennessee Titans
They were a surprise playoff team from a year ago. But Vince Young can’t work his magic any longer. He needs weapons, something that he hasn’t had his whole career. Chris Johnson, the rookie scat back from East Carolina, looks impressive, but that’s about it. No receivers to speak of, and Alge Crumpler is not what he once was. Unless they get a big time target for VY, then this team will regress to .500.
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Jeff Garcia can only do so much. This team, with an aging defense, and limited targets will be a long shot to compete, especially with the Saints looking good. Joey Galloway isn’t getting younger, and his trademark speed will diminish. How will Earnest Graham respond to the full-time starting job? Again, a team with too many questions to have a legit shot at contending.
There you have it. Now you can impress your friends with this newfound knowledge.