*Posted September 4, 2008*
Even though the Republican National Convention is in full swing, and the Pirates finally won a game, and the fact that PennState is going to be fairly great this year, the NFL is back!Finally the weekly grind of fantasy, pickem, and the Steelers is upon us, and I am as giddy as a schoolboy.I did always enjoy the heroine in the Last Crusade.I figured I would write another NFL column, I know, no variety, but the readers should get what they want.
There are always turn-around stories in the NFL and this year will be no different.I will try to name two teams who made the playoffs last year that wont make it this year, and vice versa, two surprise teams that will make a run this year that sucked last.This could be easy, everyone can pick the Titans and the Buccaneers not to make it and the Vikings and Jets to rebound this year.But I am not Mark Schlereth or any other bloated ESPN talking-head.For those that are familiar with me, then you know that I always go out on a limb.No ESPN darlings, only ballsy picks.
2 Teams (1 NFC/ 1 AFC) that wont make the playoffs that made it last year
New York Giants - Rule of thumb, always start with the Super Bowl champs.I am reminded of the 2006 Steelers after their 2005 win, ahhh, thanks Bill Cowher.Even with the Super Bowl hangover play, Osi Umenyiora is arguably the second most important player on the team, next to Manning.Plus, that NFC East is brutal.2 games against the Cowboys, Eagles, and Redskins.Just a hint, for pickem, take the Redskins on the Thursday night opener.The Giants made a great run last year, they won’t get to the race this time around.
Jacksonville Jaguars - How long can the Jags be everyone’s “sleeper?”Some loyal readers will point out that I picked the Jags real high in my preseason power rankings, and I am reneging on that prediction.David GAYrrad is overrated, Fred Taylor is still “Fragile Freddy,” and their own players are getting shot.Add in the fact that they do play Indy twice a year, and for that matter, Tennessee and Houston twice as well, spells a possible letdown for the Jags.They are Shaun King’s “sleeper” Super Bowl pick.When has Shaun King done anything right since he left Tulane?
2 Teams (1 AFC / 1 NFC) that will make the playoffs that missed it last year
Buffalo Bills - Now here me out.Everybody is jacking up the Jets.Skip Bayless predicts the Jets as a possible 12-4 team.But what about the Bills? Lets compare the two.An aging Favre or an-up-and-coming Edwards?Wash.Lynch or Jones?Sadly for my sake, fantasy angle, Lynch and the Bills.Lee Evans or Jericho Cotchery?Evans and the Bills.Defense?Bills.Jauron or Mangini?Easy Bills.Guess what, the Bills are better than the Jets.I thought the Steelers played fairly tough football in the preseason, and the Bills were the only team that really beat them.Look for a Buffalo surprise.
Carolina Panthers - I have often stated that John Fox is one of the better coaches in the NFL and you can’t keep him down for long.It seems like Carolina is always rattled with injuries and hopefully for their sake they won’t get the injury-bug this year.Because if they don’t, they may surprise.The defense is young and solid.The running game was reinforced with the drafting of Jonathan Stewart, and Jack Delhomme is back and healthy.Steve Smith’s best numbers are put up when Delhomme plays 13-16 games a year.I look for Delhomme to be healthy and the Panthers to be back in the playoffs.
Good luck to all those Pittsburgh Steelers this weekend in their home tilt with the Houston Texans, and all those playing fantasy football.For those many fans of both the Steelers and the Carnell Lake Effect, your general manger predicts 1-0 starts for both.