In the last three weeks, a part of brain that has laid dormant the entire summer has sprung back to life. You know what that means?
My Autumn Mistress has returned!
I am referring to the National Football League. Are you fan? Who cares?
This season looks to be on the unspectacular side. It looks like the teams from Pittsburgh and New England are being penciled in for Super Bowl 44. The good news is that only one of those teams can make it. Sixteen other teams will be battling for the second invite.
Now for some story lines:
The Houston Texans
This is the darling of the experts. They are clamoring for the Texans to make the playoffs for the first time since they started up in 2002. I am skeptical. Only six teams will make the playoffs in the American Football Conference, to which the Texans belong. Here are some other teams in this conference: The Baltimore Ravens, The Miami Dolphins, The Tennessee Titans, The Indianapolis Colts, and the San Diego Chargers. Oh… and the Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots. All of those teams, except the Patriots, made the playoffs last season. Are the Texans better than any of the teams listed this year??? For three seasons, no teams in the AFC have been as good. The Texans have hope: The Colts are not looking as impressive this year; the Titans may have been a fluke last season (The Colts and Titans are in the same division as Houston), and the Dolphins could also have been a fluke last season. The Patriots will make it back to Playoff this season, and it could be at the expense of the Dolphins. So, the Texans have to win the close games, and hope the Colts, Titans and Ravens struggle.
I pity the Raider Nation
First off: Shame on HBO for not choosing the Oakland Raiders as the subjects of their reality series Hard Knocks. They have missed a Head Coach busting the jaw of an assistant coach. Hey, you win some and lose some. I feel for Head Coach Tom Cable. He is the head coach of the Raiders, but he did not get to hire his own assistant coaches. Every other head coach (except that poor soul in Washington D.C.) has the right to hire his own assistant coaches. The assistants he does have, report back to the owner.
An owner who dresses like Evil Knievel.
There was one saving grace for the Raiders for the last two seasons. The Detroit Lions were so much more pitiful that they were the laughing stock. Well, Detroit has hope, and this after a 0-16 season! The Oakland Raiders were referred to as “Dumpster Fire” by a sports talk show host early in Training Camp. The Lions are not going to bail the Raiders out this season.
There is hope. Hope for more wins this season. The playoffs? No chance. However, this season is an opportunity for the Power that be to show his loyal fans that he is committed to excellence (albeit, off in the future). Oakland has some of the best fans on the planet, but how long can you lead them on before they look elsewhere?
Across the Bay is better? Not so fast
The San Francisco 49’ers are in the middle of the pack in the National Football Conference. The NFC is not as top heavy as the AFC, so it is possible for the Niners to reach up and get a playoff berth. However, just like last season, the Niners will have to win their division. Unlike last season, the Seattle Seahawks are back. After a down year, the Seahawks return with a healthy quarterback, and new talent to reclaim the NFC West division. The Niner fans have to pray for a few things:
Three of these teams: the Carolina Panthers, Chicago Bears, Atlanta Falcons, Minnesota Vikings, and Dallas Cowboys have a struggle to win games.
The Niners win head to head games against the Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals are in the same boat as the Niners now that Seattle is back.
Pop’s Washington Redskins
The AFC East is loaded. Washington has talent, and can win some games. However, they play in the same division as the New York Giants, the Philadelphia Eagles, and those darn Dallas Cowboys. At least two teams will make the playoffs from this division, and maybe three. The Skins need a lot of help to make this happen.
My Tampa Bay Buccaneers
I am glad that Coach Gruden is gone. Maybe now the team will start building with youth, instead of trying to find “past their prime” veterans to fill the roster. This team will struggle to make 8-8. Let’s hope the draft is kind to the Bucs next April.
My fearless prediction
Well, not so crazy. Either the Pittsburg Steelers or the New England Patriots will emerge from the AFC. The Houston Texans will not make the playoffs
Brett Favre will not make the difference in Minnesota, and their hopes of an NFC crown. The New York Giants will rebound, but Philly will be right there as the season moves along. The Cowboys will fall off he tracks at some point. Atlanta could be very special this year. It comes down to the Carolina Panthers and the New York/Philly survivor.
Patriots and the Giants in a rematch of Super Bowl 42.