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    Krupka's and Byrne's early NFL Preview

    [size=18px]Krupka's and Byrne's early NFL Preview[/size]

    By Connor Byrne and Eric Krupka of RealFootball365.com
    June 15, 2006 04:40 AM



    As each new day passes, the NFL season continues to loom larger. It seems like it was just Super Bowl XL and everyone was watching the Steelers and Seahawks, but the league has been through all the off-season action since. Free agency, coaching changes, a new collective bargaining agreement and the draft dominated the last few months.

    Now that summer is here, players and coaches are readying themselves for next month's training camp, as well as the preseason, which begins in August.

    Thus, now's a good time to take a look at who are the favorites, middle-of-the-road teams, and what franchises are expected to be flat-out awful in the upcoming season. Of course, there's always a surprise team or two that rises to contention during the season. You never know, the Jets could end up winning it all next season. That's a strange thought, indeed, but in the NFL, nothing's impossible.

    1.) Seattle - The defending NFC champs probably would have won it all in 2005-2006, had it not been for some questionable officiating in the Super Bowl. They lost left guard Walter Jones, receiver Joe Jurevicius and cornerback Andre Dyson during the off-season, but should still be considered the favorites going into the upcoming year. Seattle still has quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, MVP running back Shaun Alexander, a great offensive line and solid defense. Seahawks fans are in for quite a season.

    2.) Pittsburgh - The reigning Super Bowl champs may have lost receiver Antwaan Randle El and RB Jerome Bettis, but they made a terrific draft pick in Santonio Holmes, and Willie Parker and Duce Staley should fill in just fine in the backfield. They also have one of the best head coaches in the NFL in Bill Cowher. Oh, and they still have a stellar defensive unit and that quarterback, what's his name? Ben Roethlisberger. Yeah him, the one that owns an amazing 26-3 career record. However, keep an eye on Roethlisberger's condition following a motorcycle accident. A serious injury to him will cripple the Steelers' chances next season. Memo to Charlie Batch: Get ready to start and face the wrath of Pittsburgh.

    3.) Indianapolis - They don't have RB Edgerrin James anymore, but between the trio of James Mungro, Dominic Rhodes, and rookie Joseph Addai, they should be able to find sufficient production. They also have the best QB-WR tandem in the NFL with Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison. The defense continued to improve last year. There is no reason to believe the Colts won't be marching deep into January and possibly February.

    4.) Washington - The biggest question the Redskins are dealing with concerns veteran QB Mark Brunell. If he can keep turnovers at bay and let his offensive weapons carry the load, head coach Joe Gibbs will be zeroing in on his fourth Super Bowl victory. The defense has enough talent to be one of the best units in recent memory.

    5.) Carolina - The addition of receiver Keyshawn Johnson should mean big things for Jake Delhomme, who relied too much on All-Pro wideout Steve Smith in 2005. They also picked up RB DeAngelo Williams in the first round of April's draft, and he has all the tools to become a great player. Ex-All-Pro defensive tackle Kris Jenkins is expected to return to health. If he does, the Panthers' defense could be dominant. With all those factors in mind, Carolina seems ready to compete for their second Super Bowl berth in the last four years.

    6.) New England - Is the dynasty beginning to crumble? In recent years the coaching staff has been pillaged by the college ranks as well as the NFL. Arguably the best head coach, Bill Belichick, still resides in Massachusetts, and they still have the ultimate QB in Tom Brady. However, no longer is Adam Vinatieri there to kick winning field goals. The team has gotten older, and there are certainly question marks. The Patriots still should be considered the division favorites in a weak AFC East.

    7.) Denver - One has to wonder if the Broncos are good enough to even make the playoffs this season. They're ranked this high out of respect for their performance in '05, when they went 13-3 and won the AFC West; however, QB Jake Plummer had a career year and things went perfectly in the running game. Bruising back Mike Anderson is gone, which puts tons of pressure on undersized runner Tatum Bell and career-bust Ron Dayne.

    8.) Cincinnati - The Bengals are one of a handful of teams good enough to compete for the Lombardi Trophy. It all comes down to Pro Bowl quarterback Carson Palmer, who tore knee ligaments in a playoff loss to the Steelers last January. If his health holds up, Cincy should at least return to the postseason.

    9.) New York Giants - Eli Manning should continue to get better, but he'll still make some young mistakes. It'd be hard to imagine Tiki Barber being better than he was last year, which doesn't bode well for the Giants. With the addition of cornerback Sam Madison and safety Will Demps through free agency, the secondary looks legitimate. However, the G-Men still aren't better than the top team in the NFC East, the Redskins.

    10.) Chicago - It will be all "Lovie-dovie" when the season starts. Linebacker Brian Urlacher leads a dominating defensive unit. However, how long will it be until the Bears realize they still have an impotent offense? I'll say Week Two. They are still the favorites to win the NFC North, but don't be surprised to see the Vikings eek past them if the Bears have trouble scoring points, which is almost a guarantee.

    11.) Tampa Bay - QB Chris Simms and RB Cadillac Williams are both second-year starters. All signs point to them continuing to further their development. As usual, Monte Kiffin's defense looks terrific. As long as receiver Michael Clayton rebounds from a rough '05, the Bucs will be in the thick of the NFC South race. Also, Tampa returns 21 of their 22 starters from last season, so continuity and chemistry are certainly strengths for the Bucs.

    12.) Kansas City - New head coach Herm Edwards was brought in to help fix a struggling defensive unit. The Chiefs still have a high-octane offense led by arguably the league's best back, Larry Johnson. They also still have a porous defense whose troubles start up front. There is basically no pass rush, leaving the defensive backfield out to dry. This leads to the picking apart of their secondary, which leads to a vast amount of points allowed. Expect plenty of shootouts again this season.

    13.) Minnesota - Last year was the first in a long time that the Vikings had an above average defense. The problem was their offense suddenly didn't scare anyone. For the second consecutive off-season the face of the franchise was traded; this time it was QB Daunte Culpepper. Veteran QB Brad Johnson will lead the offense this season. Numerous free-agent acquisitions were made, most notably All-Pro guard Steve Hutchinson and RB Chester Taylor. First-time head coach Brad Childress is now expected to navigate the Vikings' ship to a playoff berth.

    14.) Atlanta - This could be QB Ron Mexico's, I mean Michael Vick's last hurrah in Atlanta. There are rumblings that the coaching staff butts heads with him, and he is a horrible fit for their west coast offense. It has been rumored that the organization was unwilling to deal backup Matt Schaub because the plan is for him to be Vick's successor as early as 2007. The team should be solid again, but missing out on the playoffs or a first-round loss is most likely.

    15.) Baltimore - McNair to Mason...Touchdown Titans. Whoops, sorry. That was a few years ago. Now the McNair to Mason tandem is back together and should prove to be a phenomenal one again. The Ravens made a tremendous pickup in acquiring the 33-year-old McNair, a former All-Pro. They once again boast a solid defense, and with a real quarterback--something the organization has been without for its entire existence--they could once again find themselves in the playoffs.

    16.) Dallas - Everyone wants to anoint the Cowboys as a title contender in the upcoming season, but it doesn't make sense. Like it or not, Cowboys fans, Terrell Owens is a major distraction, and Drew Bledsoe isn't the quarterback that Donovan McNabb is. For those who love soap operas, keep an eye on Dallas. They went 9-7 last year. If they do better than that, it'll be a shock.

    17.) San Diego - In a questionable PR move, but certainly a good financial move, the Chargers opted to let Drew Brees leave and hand over the offense to 2004 No. 4 overall pick Phillip Rivers. Many question how good Rivers will be. He certainly has the talent around him to have a good season and lead the "Super Chargers" back to the playoffs. Still, it's hard to imagine a good performance from Rivers in his first season as a starting QB.

    18.) Miami - The paper champions of the AFC East. 'Nuff said. It's time to see if Daunte Culpepper can still be a solid player after his vicious knee injury. If not, it'll be a long season in South Florida with Joey Harrington under center.

    19.) Jacksonville - A sneaky team. Definitely a sleeper. Head coach Jack Del Rio has proven to be a bright up-and-coming motivator. Byron Leftwich has the chance to become scary good. The only true weakness the team has is a long, downfield pass catching option with the retirement of Jimmy Smith. However, the Jags are hopeful that Matt Jones or Reggie Williams could develop into one.

    20.) Philadelphia - No more T.O. No more distraction. QB Donovan McNabb lost some of his luster and his health last season. This season is a chance to silence T.O. and the doubters for the veteran Pro Bowler. The wide receiving corps is very thin. In an extremely tough division, a last place finish isn't out of the question. In fact, it's likely for the Eagles. Indeed, the mighty has fallen.

    21.) Arizona - Four-time Pro Bowler Edgerrin James now heads the Cardinals' backfield, and that could make for big things in '06 for Arizona. QB Kurt Warner has the best receiving tandem in today's league with Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald. The main concern on the Cards' roster is the linebacking corps. If it can perform decently, this team could find its first playoff bid since the 1998 season.

    22.) Cleveland - Head coach Romeo Crennel had the Browns competing every week last season, which was a surprising and positive sign. They were also among the most active teams this off-season, signing proven veterans like center LeCharles Bentley and LB Willie McGinest through free agency. Clearly, the X-Factor is second-year QB Charlie Frye. For once, the playoffs aren't out of the question in Cleveland. Still, we'll put them down here for now.

    23.) St. Louis - As usual, the Rams' offense should be one of the better units in the league. Their new head coach, Scott Linehan, is a concern, though. Rarely do new head coaches succeed in their first season. The Rams have a chance to be competitive in '06; however, they won't be a playoff team.

    24.) Oakland - Despite criticism, owner Al Davis made the right move by bringing back Art Shell as the team's head coach. He'll instill discipline and toughness to a Raiders team in desperate need of it. Whether or not Oakland succeeds in '06 will likely depend on veteran QB Aaron Brooks, who was signed this off-season after being cut by the Saints. The bottom line is, don't write the Raiders off this season. They could be a surprise team.

    25.) Detroit - With the Detroit Tigers--the city's MLB team--playing well again, the pressure is squarely on the NFL team, the Lions, to start winning. The Red Wings, Pistons and Tigers are all having success. Can the Lions follow suit? Probably not. They have become the NFL's version of the Chicago Cubs, sans the decent record. The front office is atrocious. You won't have to wait long to see the "Fire Millen" or "Ford, Sell the Lions" signs. Possibly in Week One, when they get stomped by the defending NFC Champions.

    26.) Houston - With an improved roster led by new wideout Eric Moulds and the No. 1 overall pick, defensive end Mario Williams, the Texans could be a surprise team in '06. However, to play it safe, we'll put them down here for now.

    27.) Buffalo - The Bills' defense seems adequate on paper, but the players have to get used to a brand new scheme. The offense looks like a disaster at this point. The QB situation is a mess, RB Willis McGahee's not committed to Buffalo, and the receiving corps is a question. It could be a rough year for new head coach Dick Jauron.

    28.) New Orleans - By adding RB Reggie Bush in the draft and one-time Pro Bowl QB Drew Brees through free agency, the Saints have suddenly legitimized their offense. The city of New Orleans, which was ravaged by Hurricane Katrina last summer, would love nothing more than a good football team to lift their spirits. They'll get an improved Saints club, but they won't be a playoff contender.

    29.) Tennessee - The Titans have some good young talent, but they're too inexperienced to be a team that wins many games. They'll be competitive with Billy Volek at the helm; unfortunately, Jeff Fisher's squad will find themselves falling short most weeks. No. 3 overall pick Vince Young will eventually step in for Volek in the second half of the year.

    30.) New York Jets - QB Chad Pennington appears to be back and finally healthy again. If he can stay healthy and RB Curtis Martin proves that he can still be productive, the Jets could surprise some teams. They had a very solid draft class, and rookie head coach Eric Mangini looks to be the real deal. However, they should take some lumps this year.

    31.) Green Bay - Arguably the worst team in the NFL. The front office is becoming a joke, which was evident in its handling of the Javon Walker and Darren Sharper fiascos in recent years. The ridiculous treatment the Packers allow quarterback Brett Favre to put them through, and the strange hiring of Mike McCarthy as the head coach. The only reason to go to Lambeau this season will be to drink beer and see the crumbling of a legend. 27, 28, 29. How many interceptions is that, Brett?

    32.) San Francisco - If it wasn't for these guys, the Packers would own the cellar. This is a franchise that has been a disaster since head coach Steve Mariucci was fired. Is QB Alex Smith a bust? Can Frank Gore carry the load? Why has Kevan Barlow flamed out? Those are all questions that need to be answered. At least Vernon Davis will entertain the crowd, assuming Smith can get him the ball. Another horrific year is in store for the putrid 49ers.

    --Connor J. Byrne can be reached at [email protected]

    --Eric Krupka can be reached at [email protected]


    Krupka's and Byrne's early NFL Preview

    "If at first you don't succeed, parachuting is not for you"

  2. #2
    Benet's Avatar
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    Re: Krupka's and Byrne's early NFL Preview

    Wow, the wags are desperate for something to talk about aren't they?

    It wouldn't surprise me in the slightest if this Preview was totally and utterly wrong by Week 2 of the regular season.

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    Bdubya is offline Star Spokesman
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    Re: Krupka's and Byrne's early NFL Preview

    "singersp" wrote:
    They lost left guard Walter Jones, receiver Joe Jurevicius and cornerback Andre Dyson during the off-season, but should still be considered the favorites going into the upcoming year.
    Ha, I like how they don't even mention the fact that Seattle lost Hutchinson
    MC's run away when I kick it
    They act so chicken, they should come with a large drink and a biscuit
    -Canibus

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    Re: Krupka's and Byrne's early NFL Preview

    "Bdubya" wrote:
    "singersp" wrote:
    They lost left guard Walter Jones, receiver Joe Jurevicius and cornerback Andre Dyson during the off-season, but should still be considered the favorites going into the upcoming year.
    Ha, I like how they don't even mention the fact that Seattle lost Hutchinson
    I think they meant to say Steve Hutchinson instead of Walter Jones.

    Walter Jones is a tackle, not a left guard. Plus they didn't lose him. He's still on the team. [b] :wink:

    "If at first you don't succeed, parachuting is not for you"

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    Bdubya is offline Star Spokesman
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    Re: Krupka's and Byrne's early NFL Preview

    "singersp" wrote:
    "Bdubya" wrote:
    "singersp" wrote:
    They lost left guard Walter Jones, receiver Joe Jurevicius and cornerback Andre Dyson during the off-season, but should still be considered the favorites going into the upcoming year.
    Ha, I like how they don't even mention the fact that Seattle lost Hutchinson
    I think they meant to say Steve Hutchinson instead of Walter Jones.

    Walter Jones is a tackle, not a left guard. Plus they didn't lose him. He's still on the team.
    Well, how do you go and make a mistake like that? :roll:
    MC's run away when I kick it
    They act so chicken, they should come with a large drink and a biscuit
    -Canibus

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    Re: Krupka's and Byrne's early NFL Preview

    "Bdubya" wrote:
    "singersp" wrote:
    "Bdubya" wrote:
    "singersp" wrote:
    They lost left guard Walter Jones, receiver Joe Jurevicius and cornerback Andre Dyson during the off-season, but should still be considered the favorites going into the upcoming year.
    Ha, I like how they don't even mention the fact that Seattle lost Hutchinson
    I think they meant to say Steve Hutchinson instead of Walter Jones.

    Walter Jones is a tackle, not a left guard. Plus they didn't lose him. He's still on the team.
    Well, how do you go and make a mistake like that? :roll:
    That was the first thing I noticed too, but I preferred ripping the entire piece for it's sheer speculation rather than one ridiculous mistake.

    :razz:

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    Bdubya is offline Star Spokesman
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    Re: Krupka's and Byrne's early NFL Preview

    "Benet" wrote:
    "Bdubya" wrote:
    "singersp" wrote:
    "Bdubya" wrote:
    "singersp" wrote:
    They lost left guard Walter Jones, receiver Joe Jurevicius and cornerback Andre Dyson during the off-season, but should still be considered the favorites going into the upcoming year.
    Ha, I like how they don't even mention the fact that Seattle lost Hutchinson
    I think they meant to say Steve Hutchinson instead of Walter Jones.

    Walter Jones is a tackle, not a left guard. Plus they didn't lose him. He's still on the team.
    Well, how do you go and make a mistake like that? :roll:
    That was the first thing I noticed too, but I preferred ripping the entire piece for it's sheer speculation rather than one ridiculous mistake.

    :razz:

    Call me petty, but when someone makes even the slightest mistake, I'm all over them!
    MC's run away when I kick it
    They act so chicken, they should come with a large drink and a biscuit
    -Canibus

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    Re: Krupka's and Byrne's early NFL Preview

    I was having my browser read to me this morning(yes I'm lazy today LOL) and that was the first thing that stuck out to me....they lost Walter Jones.
    How much credence can you take out of an article with that big of a boo-boo right off the bat??....I mean it was only the biggest story of the offseason....Hutch and the poison pill. :roll:

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    Re: Krupka's and Byrne's early NFL Preview

    The guy that wrote this is a complete idiot.
    I.B.O.T. #213

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    Re: Krupka's and Byrne's early NFL Preview

    I have to give him some credit as his take on the Packers is right on the money!

    31.) Green Bay - Arguably the worst team in the NFL. The front office is becoming a joke, which was evident in its handling of the Javon Walker and Darren Sharper fiascos in recent years. The ridiculous treatment the Packers allow quarterback Brett Favre to put them through, and the strange hiring of Mike McCarthy as the head coach. The only reason to go to Lambeau this season will be to drink beer and see the crumbling of a legend. 27, 28, 29. How many interceptions is that, Brett?
    What we've got here is failure to communicate.

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