Merry Tuesday, good readers! I present to you the product of limited labor and plenty of boredom.
#6: Denver Broncos. The wild stallions from the mile high city have decided that the time is ripe to add the final pieces to the puzzle. They've made some fairly significant additions in free agency, augmenting what was already a rock-solid squad. I was deeply shocked that this group didn't make the playoffs last year, and hoist the blame onto the slumping shoulders of Jake the Snake. Fortunes should improve this time around, but a lot of that is contingent on...
The X Factor: Jay Cutler. This is one of those guys who was so often proclaimed to be underrated that I fear he's become vastly overrated. I don't doubt that he can become a good NFL QB, but let's give it a bit of time. If he steps into the limelight and shines as so many seem to think he will, this team could be a super bowl contender. Otherwise... Expect this year to be no different than the last.
7: New Orleans Saints. The best feel-good story in decades was a resounding success, lasting until the NFC finals last season. This young squad is back in full and can't wait to show up the doubters. Many would label them just another one-year-wonder Cinderella story, but I choose to abstain from that crowd. Color me hoodwinked.
The X Factor: The Offense. I know, It's a broad spectrum. But the fact remains that the scoring came out of nowhere; and while It's very easily attributed to the emergence of Stars (i.e. Bres, Bush, Colston) who had not been on the team in previous years, I don't know if they can sustain it. I think so, I hope so, but there's a small part of me that still doubts this sudden meteoric rise.
8: Philadelphia Eagles. There are several cutoff points on this list: The first, teams with truly elite talent, ends with San Diego. The second, the really talented teams who also have a noticeable flaw, ended with New Orleans. The Birds from the City of Brotherly Shove begin a new one; teams that are mostly solid, but probably not super bowl contenders. Don't get me wrong: Philly is a very good squad. They're solid all around the board, especially showing their mettle late last season. But here's what worries me: All of that was piloted by Jeff Garcia. This team is going to...
The X Factor:Bank on Donovan McNabb to win its games, and frankly his recent history suggests that playing every day is no longer a strength. If he displays the consistency of super-bowl year Donovan, great. The NFC East should be in the bag. But if he does not, the team lacks the capable backup to manuever them around the final stretch.
9. Cincinatti Bengals. The feline lords are an exciting bunch; one reminiscent in almost every way to the Colts of four or five years ago. You've got your stud quarterback, the consistent RB, the lead wideout and the very good #2. Unfortunately, they also duplicate those Colts' lack of defensive presence. The blame partly lies at thee feet of players' off-field conduct, sometimes I think there are more Bengals defenders in county prison than off it.
The X Factor: Act like a bunch of human beings. The team is hugely talented, it just needs to find a way to keep everyone away from the cells. If the players can somehow be inspired to act like good samaritans, they can go far.
#10: Dallas Cowboys. Call me a homer, I've certainly been guilty of the crime in the past. I believe that these Cowboys can do some fairly special things if things pan out. I see a situation very much like Denver's. A talented team that's addes some pivotal pieces and will come to depend on their young, untested quarterback to lead them through the year. Wade Phillips' Defense should result in a lot more big plays, both for the defense itself and the other team. I'm optimistic as to the end result, however.- probably because I saw, scared, undisciplined play out of these bunch when they were coached by the Tuna. The cowgirls will depend on, as I stated....
The X Factor: He was Captain America, Part II during his first five or six games. Then everything fell apart on the football field. He started throwing interceptions left and right, getting sacked, making bad decisions. He fared fairly well during the playoff game against the Seahawks... until that fatal mishap with the Grammatica field goal. Nevertheless, I still have faith that Tony can lead us out of the wasteland and into the promised land. And Carrie Underwood is... err, very talented.