Thursday, September 09, 2004
The 2004 NFL season will kick off tonight in Foxboro with the Colts and Patriots. If you can't get fired up for the NFL right now, then I don't know what I can do for you. Oh, and Michael Irvin sucks. I'm shocked that he's still on ESPN. But anyways, here's how it will go. Tonight, I'll post my AFC preview. Tomorrow, my NFC preview will be up. Or it could be up later tonight, who knows. But for now, here's my 2004 AFC Preview.
AMERICAN FOOTBALL CONFERENCE (AFC)
New England Patriots (11-5)
---Please stop the "Tom Brady is Joe Montana" comparisons. Until he can lead his team on a game-winning touchdown drive in the Super Bowl, he's nowhere close to Montana. Corey Dillon will help the Patriots' running game. But he's not going to be a choir boy. That's just not his style. The defense will be solid once again in 2004. I do think that the Patriots will miss Ted Washington in a big way, however. No way does this team have another post-Super Bowl hangover (see 2002).
Buffalo Bills (9-7)
---Drew Bledsoe, 2004 AFC Comeback Player of the Year. The defense was one of the NFL's best in 2003, so there's no reason why they can't be as good, if not better in 2004. Look for Willis McGahee to take some carries away from Travis Henry. But Henry will be the main running back for the Bills in 2004. McGahee will have his chance. It just won't be this season.
New York Jets (8-8)
---Can Chad Pennington play all 16 games in 2004? If he can, the Jets may very well be a playoff team. They have one of the easiest schedules in football, but I don't see them being better than 8-8. But if there is a darkhorse in the AFC, it's the J-E-T-S, Jets Jets Jets.
Miami Dolphins (5-11)
---Dave Wannstedt, Dead Coach Walking. There's nothing to be said about this South Beach mess.
Cincinnati Bengals (9-7)
---As good as Jon Kitna was in 2003, I believe that Carson Palmer could be better in 2004. Marvin Lewis knows what he is doing in Cincinnati. I also believe that Rudi Johnson will make people say "Corey Who?", if he hasn't already. The AFC North is a toss-up between the Bengals and Ravens. In the end, it will come down to which unproven quarterback plays better, Palmer or Kyle Boller. I think it will be Palmer. The Bengals have not been to the playoffs since 1990. This organization is due.
Baltimore Ravens (9-7)
---It won't be Prime Time in Baltimore for Deion Sanders. I don't see this ending well at all. But as for the rest of the Ravens, they will challenge the Bengals for AFC North supremacy. Jamal Lewis won't come close to 2,000 yards this season, though. And I hope the Madden Curse hits Ray Lewis. The Ravens will finish with the same 9-7 record as the Bengals, but will lose the AFC North due to tiebreakers.
Pittsburgh Steelers (7-9)
---Ben Roethlisberger will replace Tommy Maddox by Week 6.
Cleveland Browns (4-12)
Bark like a dog, Soldier, I mean, Kellen Winslow, Jr. Not even Jeff Garcia can save this team. The Dawg Pound will be hurting one more time in 2004.
Indianapolis Colts (12-4)
Can Peyton Manning lead the Colts to the Super Bowl? Sure. But can the Colts defense stop anybody? That's the question I have about the Colts. Marvin Harrison will be Marvin Harrison. Edgerrin James is primed for a big season, since it's his contract year. They should be back in the AFC Championship Game once again.
Tennessee Titans (10-6)
---No Eddie George, not too big of a problem. Steve McNair is the toughest quarterback in the AFC. I could say the entire NFL, but there's some guy named Favre in Green Bay who claims the title of "toughest quarterback in football". Watch out for tight end Ben Troupe. Early in the season, he probably won't get too much publicity. But as the season goes on, I see Troupe becoming a big part of the Titans offense. As long as McNair is in Tennessee, they have a chance to win.
Houston Texans (7-9)
---Year Three of the Houston Texans is here. Before too long, we will call David Carr one of the best quarterbacks in football. Domanick Davis had a solid rookie season last year, and should do more of the same in 2004. The Texans have been competitive in their short existence. Expect this team to be competitive again in 2004.
Jacksonville Jaguars (6-10)
---The Jaguars are a year away. If you wanted to come to a website that isn't kissing Jacksonville's ass, this is the place for you. I like Byron Leftwich, but he needs a little more time to develop. By 2005, the phrase "Byron to Reggie (Williams), Touchdown Jacksonville" will be popular in Northern Florida.
Kansas City Chiefs (10-6)
---See the Colts review. Great offense, poor defense. Could this be the final hurrah for Dick Vermeil? It's shocking to think that this is already his 4th season in Kansas City, while he only spent 3 seasons in St. Louis. As for the personnel on the field, Trent Green should have another great season. Priest Holmes is a fantasy football lock. The receiving corps is not as strong as it has been, with injuries to Johnnie Morton and Marc Boerigter. But expect the Chiefs in the playoffs again in 2004. Yes, they will force the opposing offense to punt in this year's postseason.
Denver Broncos (8-8)
---The most overrated team in football. While Champ Bailey is a great pickup for the Broncos, they will miss Clinton Portis dearly. I don't believe in Jake Plummer. I never have, I never will. Mike Shanahan is on the hot seat this year. Is that crazy for me to say? I don't think so. Remember, this is a team that has done absolutely nothing since John Elway retired.
Oakland Raiders (6-10)
---Norv Turner is a head coach in the NFL again? Yikes. This is Mike White and Joe Bugel all over again. Screw the Raider Nation. If there's one thing I miss about the Seahawks not being in the AFC anymore, it's the fact that they don't get to play the Raiders every year. Damn, I miss that rivalry.
San Diego Chargers (3-13)
---Marty Schottenheimer should never coach in the NFL again. LaDainian Tomlinson is the only reason why this team is still relevant in today's NFL. Oh, and Philip Rivers will start by Week 7.
AFC PLAYOFF PREDICTIONS
Indianapolis (home field advantage)
New England (first round bye)
Kansas City (division winner)
Cincinnati (division winner)
Tennessee (wild card)
Buffalo (wild card)
Wild Card Round
KC d. BUF
TEN d. CIN
IND d. TEN
NE d. KC
AFC Championship Game
NE d. IND
AFC Champions: New England Patriots
AFC Offensive MVP: QB Peyton Manning, Colts
AFC Defensive MVP: DL Richard Seymour, Patriots
AFC Offensive Rookie: WR Lee Evans, Bills
AFC Defensive Rookie: LB Jonathan Vilma, Jets
AFC Comeback Player: QB Drew Bledsoe, Bills
AFC Coach of the Year: Marvin Lewis, Bengals
My NFC Preview will be up either later tonight or tomorrow.
1 hour, 45 minutes until kickoff in Foxboro.