Friday, September 07, 2007

Let Me Tell You How I Feel

Looking over the various Week 1 prediction sites, and the various matchups for this weekend, I realized that the NFL looks very weird this year. For instance, Minnesota plays Atlanta, and everyone thinks Minnesota is going to be terrible this year, but everyone is picking them over Atlanta, and I can't say I disagree. Kansas City plays Houston, and everyone knows Houston is terrible, but it's a pretty safe pick to take Houston over Kansas City. It's not that the worst teams in the league have gotten better; it's that a few of the solidly mediocre teams from last year look to be godawful this year. And which teams have gotten better? At this point, I think it's hard to point out any teams who seem like they're clearly going to be better than they were last season.

Probably New England, although I don't quite buy into the New England that everyone expects to cruise to a Super Bowl victory this year. The Eagles should be better as long as McNabb manages to make it through the season for the first time in three years. From the looks of last night's game, Indianapolis has improved quite a lot on defense, so they're probably actually a better team than they were last year when I think they were really in kind of a slump (it's just that they got hot in the playoffs and won the big one finally.) And I really do think Chicago's going to be a better team this year than they were last year; they've got a more complete and stacked defense and more weapons on offense. The only other two teams in the league that I think belong in the same category as these four are New Orleans and San Diego, but I don't think either is going to be quite as good as last year. San Diego's got a crappy coach who won't quite be able to keep their talent down but certainly won't raise it at all, and New Orleans is, I think, going to go through a bit of a sophomore slump.

The rest of the league just looks stuck right now. There are coaches who've been allowed to stick around for one year too many (New York Giants, Cleveland, Tampa Bay), rookie coaches who won't start paying dividends until too late in the season to matter (Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Houston, Arizona), and teams who look to be a little better than last season but not enough to really matter yet (Green Bay, San Francisco, St. Louis, NY Jets). Miami, Oakland, Minnesota, and Detroit are all just terrible and will still be terrible at the end of the season. And finally there are the almost pretty good teams who are just kind of coasting right there above mediocre, who I expect will continue to do so all season (Dallas, Seattle, Jacksonville, Cincinnati).

I think I missed some teams, but oh, well. My only real point is that going into the season, there are only about six teams I think really matter at all, and only four of them (Chicago, New England, Indianapolis, Philadelphia) who I think are really Super Bowl contenders this year.

And of course, the Bears are going to win this year, so there's not much reason for those other teams to even bother trying this year.

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