I've been posting on message boards for quite some time and one thing that has always annoyed me is when someone thinks that they're the next miss cleo and makes a wild/pulled out of their ass prediction about something but when the actual thing occurs and the guy turns out to have been completely wrong, nobody can find the post or article to truly give the guy the ball busting that he deserves. So this is the thread to put any article or post that you want to remember about. This is also the thread for those of you that like to make personal guarantees, make them right here and i'll personally bust your balls later when you turn out to be wrong
Given the annual turnover in the 12-team playoff field, I tried last week to make an educated prediction (i.e., wild guess) at which six postseason squads from 2007 will miss the bus in ‘08. The six pegged to be knocked down a peg or two in the coming season are the Pittsburgh Steelers, Tennessee Titans, Washington Redskins, Green Bay Packers, Seattle Seahawks and New York Giants.
So with a half-dozen seats expected to be empty, the next job is to figure out which six non-playoff teams from 2007 will qualify for the Super Bowl tournament. Before that, let’s consider six non-playoff teams from last season that will remain non-playoff teams this time around:
1. New York Jets
The New England Patriots, who typically built their roster carefully and methodically, used an aggressive offseason in 2007 to position the franchise for an undefeated regular season. Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum previously espoused a build-through-the-draft approach, but he paid out like a broken poker machine in March, giving huge-money deals to more than a few strangers to the franchise.
Though the Patriots’ approach in ‘07 had an overriding sense of precision, the Jets’ offseason moves came off as reckless—almost desperate.
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The Jets have too many question marks, most notably at quarterback. Kellen Clemens, a second-round pick in ‘06, has struggled and thus gave Chad Pennington an unexpected shot at regaining the starting gig. The reality: Neither guy is the answer.
More important, there is growing evidence that the players don’t trust the front office. Last year, it was Pete Kendall who claimed the team had reneged on promises to increase his pay. Then, wide receiver Laveranues Coles made an identical contention. Now, tight end Chris Baker is barking the same tune.
Despite the Jets’ ambitions to compete with division rival New England and the New York Giants—those Super Bowl ring-wearing crosstown neighbors with whom the they share a stadium—the reality for the Jets is that winning the AFC East is a pipe dream, and securing a wild-card spot is a long shot.
2. Cleveland Browns
The Browns are the trendy pick to make the ‘08 playoffs, given their sudden resurgence and near miss of the postseason a year ago. And so they’ll face the intense pressure and scrutiny that go along with high expectations.
With a tough schedule, a bull’s eye on each side of that logo-less orange helmet and a full offseason for defensive coordinators to figure out how to stop quarterback Derek Anderson, it could be a long year for the Browns.
Like the Jets, the Browns’ offseason spending smacks of desperation. They gave too much money to wide receiver Donte’ Stallworth and gave up too much for underachieving defensive tackle Shaun Rogers.
The big question is whether Anderson can continue to perform at a high level. His “nothing to lose” mindset has been replaced by the burden of being the clear-cut starter, with an upstart first-rounder peering over his shoulder, anxious for Anderson to screw things up.
Though the fans in Cleveland sorely deserve a winning team, the fact that last year’s team did so well without a playoff berth is going to work against the Browns this year. The end result could very well be another year without a postseason appearance.
3. Kansas City Chiefs
On the surface, the addition of the Chiefs to this list is a no-brainer. The franchise is in obvious rebuilding mode, and coach Herm Edwards expects nine of the team’s 12 draft picks to suit up on Sundays this fall.
But I’ve added them because some Kansas City fans don’t seem to realize that the team is closer to the bottom than the top. Indeed, there’s a strange sense of swagger that comes from a franchise that, in reality, has nothing to swagger about.
Though confidence is a good thing, it needs a strong foundation. The Chiefs don’t have it, and thus the confidence from guys like Edwards and GM Carl Peterson is more accurately described as hubris.
Come January, that hubris could be replaced by unemployment.
4. Detroit Lions
Like the Chiefs, the Lions have far more confidence than their talent level warrants. Quarterback Jon Kitna can’t keep quiet; he again has predicted 10 victories. It didn’t happen in ‘07, and it won’t happen in ‘08.
What have the Lions done to get better? The running back situation is a multi-headed crapshoot. The offensive line is average at best. And the defense is merely a collection of former Buccaneers who, if they were great players, would be current Buccaneers.
Picking the Lions to miss the playoffs hardly represents a full-body shimmy onto a rubbery tree limb. However, it’s important to nip in the bud the annual sense that the law of averages will come into play and that this year will be the year for the Lions.
5. Arizona Cardinals
Speaking of the law of averages favoring a certain NFL team, look for plenty of preseason prognostications for the Cardinals reaching the playoffs. Some might even think the Cardinals will win their second postseason game since the Truman administration.
Don’t count on it.
Coach Ken Whisenhunt has the team moving in the right direction, but two offseasons isn’t enough time to turn this team around. The offensive line still needs a lot of work, and the defense isn’t quite ready to perform like the unit that complemented Whisenhunt’s offense in Pittsburgh.
Then there’s the quarterback position. Matt Leinart isn’t developing as anticipated, and Kurt Warner doesn’t have much time left. The starter/reliever approach the Cardinals used until Leinart (broken collarbone) landed on the injured reserve last year barely was working.
Leinart likely won’t tolerate that approach in ‘08. But Warner says he still can play, and that passive-aggressive routine of his will cause problems if Leinart struggles and still gets the snaps.
For any other franchise, it would be a recipe for trouble. In Arizona, it means that things will continue to be the same as they’ve been.
6. Carolina Panthers
The Panthers have the talent. For whatever reason, they can’t put it all together. It has been that way for two seasons, since the Panthers lost to the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC championship game on Jan. 22, 2006.
Once again, the Panthers look solid on paper, especially with a pair of first-round picks in running back Jonathan Stewart and offensive tackle Jeff Otah. But Carolina GM Marty Hurney still hasn’t done anything to establish a receiving threat across from Steve Smith or provide depth at quarterback behind Jake Delhomme, whose star is in danger of burning out for good.
Come January, then, it’ll be another round of excuse-making for a team that should have been good enough to go places in the postseason but simply didn’t.