Thursday, January 17, 2008

Year in Review - AFC

I'm officially pumped for the games this weekend. Especially when I discovered the Pats game is the early one for a change (3pm). Now my seven year old can watch an entire playoff game while his father gets drunk and screams at the television. He'll be a real man by halftime.

Again, just the teams who are finished for the season. Will deal with the other four later.

AFC EAST
Buffalo Bills (7-9): Granted Marshawn Lynch looks like a solid running back and their defense was decent, but they need to decide between Losman and Edwards (talk about choosing the lesser of two evils) and figure a way to score points. Managed a paltry 252 total points which was fewer than their divisional doormat Miami Dolphins.

Highlight: Winning 4 in a row early in the season; Lynch's reliability.

Lowlight: Either of the Patriot games.

2008 outlook: Not bad, actually. Maybe a new offensive coordinator to get things moving, but they have a decent core to build around.

New York Jets (4-12): Hard to tell what happened here. After last season's surprise playoff appearance, many thought there were big things in store for the Jets. Basically the AFC version of the 49ers with the same lost season.

Highlight: Making news by being the team the Patriots were video taping.

Lowlight: Turning out to be the team that didn't need to be taped.

2008 outlook: Confusing. Is this the team Mangini runs or was it last year's?

Miami Dolphins (1-15): Historically abysmal. The Jets, Raiders, Falcons, Chiefs, and Rams all had better years than this team and that is saying something.

Highlight: Yeah, I got nothing. Even their lone win was ruined by them celebrating like they won the Super Bowl.

Lowlight: Besides the entire season, how about hiring a new coach that looks like a cross between an ex military instructor and a child molester.

2008 outlook: Can only get better, right? Um....right?

AFC NORTH
Pittsburgh Steelers (10-6): Better than average season, but this team never seemed THAT good. There were decent, just never reached that elite status. Other than that, it seemed like the same old with this team. Had all the right pieces, just couldn't quite put them together.

Highlight: Willie Parker and Hines Ward having great seasons.

Lowlight: Willie Parker breaking his leg; that god awful Dolphins game.

2008 outlook: If Parker is fully healed expect another solid season.

Cleveland Browns (10-6): The surprise of the 2007 season. Not only do they pull Derek Anderson out of their ass but he becomes one of the most exciting finds since Ben Roethlisberger. Still puzzling over how this team missed the playoffs. Sadly, their defense was close to lousy.

Highlight: Anderson's 3700 yards and 29 touchdowns.

Lowlight: Wasting a pick on Brady Quinn.

2008 outlook: Brilliant! If they can improve their defense, they may actually contend for a ring. No shit.

Cincinnati Bengals (7-9): The dramatic decrease in arrests coincided with the dramatic decrease in wins. I suggest Marvin Lewis frame a few players in an attempt to recapture that lightning in a bottle. Spotty offensively and defensively. Spotty all around! Don't Bengals have stripes?

Highlight: Chad Johnson pulling on that 'Future Hall Of Famer?' jacket.

Lowlight: Someone switching this team with the Cleveland Browns. Was this like a 'Freaky Friday' phenomenon?

2008 outlook: Highly suspect. Wouldn't be surprised is they go 12-4 or 4-12 next season.

Baltimore Ravens (5-11): Such an utter collapse from their 2006 campaign, it cost Brian Billick his job. The so called 'offensive genius' sure spent a lot of time trying to find an offense for this team. What killed them was their normally potent defense slowly but surely deteriorating over the course of the year.

Highlight: Coming oh so close to beating the Patriots.

Lowlight: Coming oh so close to beating the Dolphins.

2008 outlook: Rebuilding. Chances are Troy Smith will be the full time QB next year and with a new staff expect major changes.

NFC SOUTH
Indianapolis Colts (13-3): Boy, if the Colts didn't win the Super Bowl last year you can bet the press and the state of Indiana would be all over Manning and Dungy this week. Could it be that the Super Bowl was a fluke and this is the true nature of the Colts? Or maybe Dungy was too busy moving to Tampa Bay to prepare his team properly.

Interesting note: All the teams that rested their starters during the end of the season (Indy, Dallas, Tampa Bay, Jacksonville) are gone. Meanwhile, the Patriots, Giants, Packers, and to a lesser extent Chargers - who played their starters on week 17 like it was every other game - are still standing. Just saying.

Highlight: Becoming the first team in history to win 12 or more games 5 seasons in a row.

Lowlight: Being unfortunate enough to do that during the Brady/Belichick era.

2008 outlook: Status quo. Even with a potential coaching change, don't expect much to be different with this team.

Jacksonville Jaguars (11-5): An intimidating, relentless team on both sides of the ball. Any other year they probably would have won the whole thing. Too bad...so sad....

Highlight: Hosting the Fred Taylor Revival Tour.

Lowlight: Playing in 2007 and not 2006.

2008 outlook: Rosy all around. Gerrard has a full year of seasoning, Taylor (if he stays healthy) and Jones-Drew will form the most potent 1-2 running attack in either league, and the defense should be stellar again.

Tennessee Titans (10-6): Quite possibly one of the worst playoff teams ever. How this team got in while the Browns did not is still being investigated. Just a travesty of justice. Speaking of justice, the jury is still out on whether Vince Young can be a good QB, but things are not looking good. If it weren't for one of the best defenses in the league, this team would have rivaled the Dolphins for futility.

Highlight: Making the playoffs.

Lowlight (for the fans): Making the playoffs.

2008 outlook: They desperately need offense if they're doing anything at all next year. I have a feeling that relying on Young will be the death of them.

Houston Texans (8-8): Until injuries hit, this was a good looking team. Despite the two game separation, I would have much rather seen this team in the playoffs than the Titans. At least these guys were sort of fun to watch.

Highlight: The first 2 weeks and last 4 weeks of the season.

Lowlight: The sad realization they traded for a female quarterback.

2008 outlook: Not bad. If Schaub can stay on the field (a HUGE 'if') they should be a good team next season.

NFC WEST
Denver Broncos (7-9): Defensively, one of the worst teams in the league. Gave up more points than any team except Miami and that is not good. Not good, at all. Cutler showed some signs of life and they have a keeper in Brandon Marshall. Still, need some more weapons if they want to hang with the big boys in the AFC.

Highlight: Travis Henry actually winning his steroid appeal.

Lowlight: Having it make no difference at all.

2008 outlook: Not a clue. They could be great, they could completely shit the bed. Flip a coin.

Oakland Raiders (4-12): Even when the Raiders decide to rebuild they still can't decide how to go about doing it. There is a distinct lack of direction with this team that starts with Al Davis and filters down through the organization. Jamarcus Russell could be good. He could be a bust. We probably won't know for another year because the dolts running this team thought it would be better to have him come off the bench for a few games rather than start him. Look, everyone in the league knows you're rebuilding. Just throw the youngsters into the fire. It's the only way to learn.

Highlight: Justin Fargas coming out of nowhere and getting everyone talking about one of the greatest characters in television history: Huggy Bear.


Lowlight: Russell's pointless holdout.


2008 outlook: Not good. Expect another year of futility while they figure out Russell.


Kansas City Chiefs (4-12): Let's see, you choice for QB is either Damon Huard or Brodie Croyle. This makes the Chiefs the only team in the NFL jealous of the Chicago Bears.

Highlight: Starring in HBO's 'Hard Knocks'.

Lowlight: Every game after their bye week which they entered at 4-3. Yeah, take a look at that final record again.

2008 outlook: Poop on a stick.


Today's distraction: A fantastic article about Phillip Rivers. He knows you're jealous, brah!

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