Where is Carson Palmer going to go? The obvious destinations are Seattle, Miami, Indianapolis and San Francisco if Baalke feels like trying to keep the Seahawks from acquiring him. Ultimately, I don’t think the Niners would do that, just because I think Alex Smith is better for the Niners offense anyway. Competition never hurts, but I think you can take the 49ers out and put the Jaguars in. The Jaguars are in a “win now” season to save their coach’s job and to prevent a team relocation to L.A. from being negotiated. If Chad Henne has landed on the hot seat for how his season ended when his first start was week 4 in 2009, then a slightly-better late season David Garrard who made his first start week 17 of 2002 should be on the hot seat. Garrard played mediocre-to-bad in two playoff games, and pretty good in another but the Jaguars – despite having a top running back and top offensive playcaller – have been shut out of the postseason three straight seasons.
Could Anyone Go 0-16? Once Cam Newton was named starter, I was able to remove the Panthers from my “hardest to predict” teams. The list right now includes the Bears, Raiders, Vikings and Dolphins.
With the Dolphins and Bears, it’s easy to figure out on what each team’s destiny lies: for Miami, they go as Chad Henne goes. The O-line affects Chicago the same way. Whether they go 5-11 or 12-4, neither team could possibly go 0-16.
With Oakland and Carolina, it’s unfortunate for Ron Rivera and Hue Jackson that Raheem Morris set such a high standard for “new coach with young team” expectations. In their defense, Morris was in his second season with the Bucs when he got them to 10-6.
I expect the Raiders to have the second-worst record in the NFL, based solely on how few experienced players they have on offense and how few playmakers they have on the second and third level of their defense. I think they’ll be physical on both sides of the ball, develop their passing game and sweep the Chiefs. Matt Cassel has just 3 TDs in 4 games against them since he became a part of Kansas City while he had 4 TD throws in his one game against the Raiders as a Patriot in 2008. They will eventually be good, but it’ll just be hard in 2011 when the Chiefs, Chargers and Broncos have more continuity in their coaching staff and players (Denver OC McCoy was a McDaniels staff member) and did more to “win now”.
As it stands, I have Carolina with the worst record in the NFL. Could they get 0-16? Probably not, I’m going to predict them to actually win 3 games: vs. the Titans coming off the bye, at the Lions one week later, and a road game week 17 against the Saints back-ups.
My top 2012 10 draft order: 1. Panthers, 2. Raiders, 3. Bengals, 4. Browns, 5. Bears, 6. Bills, 7. Chiefs, 8. Seahawks, 9. Jaguars, 10. 49ers. The Bears, Jaguars and Chiefs are the only teams kind of falling on their faces by drafting so high. The rest are all rebuilding and will be off this list next year, with the Bills and Bengals as possible exceptions.
T.O. could get a tryout soon. The Chicago Bears have the Falcons, Saints, Packers and Panthers to start the season. If they lose those three tough games and their highly-touted October 10th road game against the Lions, they would be 1-4. Jerry Angelo and Lovie Smith would be desperate to get back in the playoff hunt. Terrell Owens has been productive in each of his five stops and the Bears haven’t had a 1000-yard WR since Marty Booker’s 2001 season. A renaissance season for an in-shape Roy Williams – Jay Cutler claimed recently that Roy is not – is all that would keep the Bears from being desperate.
Looking at all the primetime games, you realize the influence and longevity of Bill Parcells as a coach. The kick-off game features Mike McCarthy vs. Parcells’ old OC Sean Payton (Cowboys, 2003-2005). Sunday Night Football features Jason Garrett, who got his first coaching job (Dolphins QBs coach 2005-2006) under Nick Saban, who was Browns defensive coordinator from 1991-1994 under Bill Belichick, who was Giants DC under Parcells. Rob Ryan, Dallas’s new defensive play-caller, was on the 2002 and 2003 Belichick Patriots staff, including the 2003 Championship team.
Monday Night Football’s doubleheader is an outdoor festival of Parcells disciples: Bill Belichick heads to Miami to square off against former Parcells O-line coach Tony Sparano’s Dolphins. The finale features John Fox, who was DC under Jim Fassel, who was quarterbacks coach under former Parcells offensive coordinator Ray Handley from 1991-1992.
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