I'd be doing a great disservice to myself (and maybe even Justin) if I didn't preview the upcoming NFL season. The first preseason game aired last night, and while it was a throwaway game versus two throwaway franchises, the Titans and Bills were wearing throwback jerseys, and for at least half of the first quarter, they were actually playing a little football. As I watched Vince Young throw a TD pass against a second or third string defense that was probably recruited outside of a Waffle House, I couldn't help but get a little giddy. Football is here (and Brett Favre is nowhere to be found).
The Cincinnati Reds must have wanted me to write this blog because they decided to tank the season and forget how to score runs, or really just make a game entertaining to watch. Therefore, instead of writing about the tight race in the NL Central and my utter disdain for all things Cubs and Albert Pujols related, here I am writing a football preview. Thanks, guys.
On a bit of a tangent, is it possible for Joey Votto to play first, pitch, manage, and be the first base coach simultaneously? On second thought, I wouldn't trade Billy Hatcher in for anything. I'm biting my tongue right now. Sorry, Billy. You keep tapping Willy Taveras' ass every time he beats out a slow roller in the infield.
Regardless, what's done is done, and the Reds can file away another forgettable season. Actually, just change the name of the file to Baltimore Orioles, Kansas City Royals, or Pittsburgh Pirates. No one will be able to tell the difference, and the Reds can maybe save some face.
Enough baseball talk already. So, I'm going to go division by division, and rank the teams in order of how they're going to finish. And of course, there will be a quip or two added. I'm not going any further than the teams that are going to get in the playoffs. If I did otherwise, what will I have to talk about in December and January?
1. New England Patriots (12-4) - I don't want to do it, but I think Belichick has been worshiping Satan a bit more than usual this offseason hoping that this doesn't come true. Oh, and Randy Moss can still jump over everyone and catch touchdowns while doing his taxes.
2. Miami Dolphins (10-6) - Sure, Chad Pennington has had eighteen rotator cuff surgeries. Sure, he has a tendency to sound like a derelict that was birthed from a moonshine barrel. But he always wins, and he always seems pissed. I hopped on the Chad Pennington bandwagon a few years ago and have been throwing off naysayers ever since. I'd still like to see someone kick Joey Porter in the balls, though.
3. New York Jets (7-9) - Sorry Mark Sanchez, you only played what, about two and a half games in college? Plus, it's going to be a tough transition from banging girls on some posh, warm California beach to banging girls in a pile of trash outside of Meadowlands stadium in late November weather. Also, not unlike Brian Billick (former offensive "genius") and Marvin Lewis (former defensive "genius"), Rex Ryan will probably decimate his defense as a result of a ballooning ego and the pressure to be better than his dad.
4. Buffalo Bills (5-11) - Terrell Owens aside, I like the receiving core (Lee Evans, Josh Reed, Roscoe Parrish), and I sure as hell like the fact that the J.P. Losman distraction decided to asphyxiate his career by joining the soon to be defunct UFL. However, it is the Bills, and they lost four Super Bowls in a row (1990-1993). Logical argument? Not at all. But the ghost of Scott Norwood will forever haunt the proud franchise.
Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4) - Those who know me well realize the pain this causes. I hate no team in sports more than the Steelers. Is it because, like Belichick, they made a pact with Satan to regularly compete for a division title? Yeah. Is it because they use their "Terrible Towels" to wipe their asses after they shit out the Bengals twice a year? Yeah. Is it because the world loves Hines Ward, the most abominable shitbag on the planet? Yeah. Fuck it all, just go back and read my Super Bowl blog from earlier this year. It pretty much sums it up.
Cincinnati Bengals (11-4-1) - Flip last year's record upside down. Why not? I just got done watching Hard Knocks on HBO, and I'll be damned if it didn't get me riled up. Seeing Carson Palmer delegate and tutor always gets me excited. Plus, who doesn't love hearing football players curse openly? I don't trust anyone who doesn't throw around some four-letter words from time to time. With their schedule and an offense that seems to gelling into something lethal (Chad's back), this team could be worth a shit this year (but, let's be honest, I say this every year).
Cleveland Browns (7-9) - Big step forward this year. The record won't indicate it, but the Browns are going to be in some tight ones. Mangini's a solid coach. He mainly lost his job last year because of the cancer that is Brett Favre, who would have been just as well off throwing the football to the popcorn vendor or the field goal post.
Baltimore Ravens (3-13) - Did the world (aside from me and Justin) really buy in to Joe Flacco? Really? He looks like the assistant manager of a Piggly Wiggly in Montgomery, Alabama and is about as exciting as a haircut from Great Clips. I'm also still waiting for someone to take Ed Reed's head off during one of his ridiculous patented interceptions for a touchdown. Then he'd be dead, and the Ravens would only be able to score seven points each game. Oh, and Ray Lewis seems like he's running purely on fumes of cocaine in this stage of his career.
Indianapolis Colts (13-3) - I've never been shy about my love for Peyton Manning. How can I not appreciate watching the best quarterback of my lifetime who has completely redefined the position? However, the Colts are in the waning years of their dynasty, so this year is going to be the team's final big push. The offense will continue to run like a fucking machine. Now, if only Tony Dungy hadn't left to counsel a dog killer for his own self-fulfilling, soapbox reasons. Shit, that bugs me.
Houston Texans (9-7) - Didn't see that one coming, did you? The Texans have been abysmal since they were brought into the league in 2002, and something's got to give. Andre Johnson is a legitimate man-child, Schaub may actually be for real, and Mario Williams turned out to be the right choice. The jury's still out, but I'm taking a leap this year. Now, if they could only figure out how to beat the Colts.
Tennessee Titans (7-9) - Big step back for the team that played over its head more than anyone last year (except for maybe the Ravens). The defense lost Haynesworth to Washington for a kajillion dollars, Collins has no one to throw to (Justin Gage?), and while I do like Kerry Collins, he is a haggard 58-year old man, while his backup is (and always has been) an overrated mess of a glorified running back.
Jacksonville Jaguars (5-11) - Why in almighty hell does Jacksonville have a football franchise and Los Angeles doesn't? This travesty needs to end, and the NFL think tank needs to buff up on its LOST episodes and figure out a way to move the Jacksonville stadium and fanbase to LA. By the way, Del Rio's job is toast this season.
San Diego Chargers (10-6) - I hate Philip Rivers. I think he's a cocky shit who would rather taunt fans and whine then approach the game with a dignified passion (a la Manning and Palmer). That being said, this division is utter garbage, and when I heard that Rivers is 14-0 in December since he took over the reigns from Brees, the Chargers just can't really be denied. Oh, and LT is a whiner too. And Merriman is a roided-out cokehead whose heart is probably going to explode on the field. Man, fuck the Chargers.
Denver Broncos (7-9) - In his NFL career, I never felt like Kyle Orton got a fair shake. A Bears divorce was necessary (who did he have to throw to on that team anyway?). Given, this is another example of a Patriots whiz kid-coach coming to a team and thinking he can turn it upside down and still succeed with a discarded quarterback, but I am rooting for Orton this year. If Brandon Marshall gets his shit straight, the receiving core can't be denied. The defense, though, is a whole other story.
Kansas City Chiefs (7-9) - I'm not saying the Matt Cassel rise to stardom isn't a good one, but what does this team really have to offer? I can't think of one redeeming quality off the top of my head. I'd say Tony Gonzales if they hadn't foolishly dumped him to Atlanta. I just looked at the roster and no one jumped out at me. Wait, wait, I do like Dwayne Bowe. There you go, Kansas City. You're got Dwayne Bowe. Give 'em hell Dwayne.
Oakland Raiders (2-14) - Al Davis needs to die for this team to succeed. Tom Cable, I repeat, Tom Cable is their coach, and they drafted Darrius Heyward-Bey with their first pick. Also, JaMarcus Russell is worthless. Can you do it all by yourself, Jeff Garcia?
Division Champs: Patriots, Steelers, Colts, Chargers
Wild Cards: Bengals, Dolphins
Here's hoping that my NFC preview will be up before the start of the season. Stay tuned.