Since this week’s blog was way too short for my liking, I’m just going to go through and grade every team and then briefly explain why I think they get those particular marks. Thanks for your support and continue to visit First Order Historians for the finest in user generated content.
Indianapolis Colts (14-2): A
More of the same from a familiar face. Peyton Manning with new receivers and still nailing everybody to the wall. Austin Collie and Pierre Garcon are really tearing it up and why wouldn’t you be if you had a guy like that throwing to you all day. Jim Caldwell inherited a great team, and because of that fact alone I think you have to make Sean Payton the coach of the year. But just all around talent and excellent execution.
Houston Texans (9-7): C+
Almost made it had the Bengals actually showed for that Jets game. Kind of hoping they would have to be honest with you. Schaub is obviously their guy now, and he can have a pretty decent career down there (He won’t win a title) if he so chooses to. Also, Andre Johnson is the man. Really really rooting for the Texans next year.
Tennessee Titans (8-8): C
As previously stated, it would have been very interesting to have seen what would have happened if they hadn’t started (0-6). Most talented team that didn’t make the playoffs. Next year has to be a statement year for Vince Young and he needs to be able to show that he is ready, especially if the Colts end up winning the Super Bowl.
Jacksonville Jaguars (7-9): C-
Mediocre at best. They have a great running back but they’re just in a tough division now. It’s almost like the Jaguars are the last team in that division to catch up, and at this point it’s too late. Not a lot of explosiveness and fragments of that team have aged rapidly.
Cincinnati Bengals (10-6): A- / C+
I don’t know which Bengals are going to show up so I’m giving them two grades. They seem full of energy and fire, but then in other games they just look really confused. Carson Palmer is either Dan Marino or Wade Wilson. Bonus Fun fact: Nobody from the Bengals made the Pro Bowl this year.
Baltimore Ravens (9-7) B
They made the postseason, but lost a lot of close games this year. There were several times this year where they were in position to win games and they lost every single one of them. Ray Lewis still has the drive so as long as he wants to play I say go for it. Ed Reed still making big plays. Derrick Mason has had a couple of uncharacteristic drops for a veteran so they need to avoid that in the playoffs.
Pittsburgh Steelers (9-7) C
Lot of questionable stuff going on for the defending Super Bowl champions. Big Ben gets one more concussion and that might be his career. Hines Ward is obviously pissed about something and the defense seemed to be very injury prone this year whereas previously they had not shown that vulnerability.
Cleveland Browns (5-11): D+
Not as good as their record may indicate. The smartest thing they can do is to hang on to Josh Cribbs because he might be the best special teams player in the league. Quarterback situation is that there’s no real quarterback to trust there. Lost Braylon Edwards at WR and they haven’t been able to fill that void at all, locker room poison or not. Rough division this year.
San Diego Chargers (13-3): A+
I’m really stoked on San Diego because I think they deserve it. They have done almost everything right since week 5 and they have a guy who has the will of a champion in Rivers. I’m not sure that their defense will be able to maintain in the playoffs, but that offense is exactly where it needs to be. LT is somewhat getting back to form and Sproles is young and quick. Vincent Jackson is having an amazing year too. Vibrant young team with a lot of dangerous weapons.
Denver Broncos (8-8): C
I laughed my ass off when I found out Denver was going to miss the playoffs. Rightfully so, they got super lucky the first week and then their luck continued but eventually ran out. Brandon Marshall is only bright spot on the team but coincidentally he’s also a huge asshole and doesn’t get along with a coach that management is definitely not going to fire.
Oakland Raiders (5-11): D+ / C-
Better, but still awful. Not a lot of attention for the Raiders in a year that even saw them playing on Thanksgiving. Lot of guys out of shape on that team. Bad coaching + Senile owner = not good news. Only stability is in their kicking game if that gives you any idea where they’re at.
Kansas City Chiefs (4-12): No Grade
In all honesty, I don’t know enough about the Chiefs to give them a grade let alone write a whole paragraph about them. Tony Gonzalez got traded to the Falcons and Larry Johnson got traded to the Bengals right? Who did they even beat this year besides the Raiders?
New England Patriots (10-6): A-
When it counts they deliver so I can’t knock that. Lot of playoff experience in that locker room too. First ballot Hall of Famer and you know the league schedules the Patriots to play some hard games because those games are total ratings grabs. They can still make a run for it there’s no question about that, but I would watch out for those younger teams like the Chargers that could easily knock them out in one shot.
New York Jets (9-7): B
Although they snuck into the playoffs, it’s a hard sell for me to think that they’re anything better than what they really are. There’s an awfully wide river between (9-7) and (10-6) and I just don’t see them moving into that next tier. They had a drive in that Bengals game that went 20 plays…and NO ONE should have a drive that lasts 20 plays. Sanchez is OK but I think they trust Thomas Jones more than they trust him, and with good reason.
Miami Dolphins (7-9): C
Ricky Williams had a great year but like I had said, eventually the league will catch up to the wildcat formation, and it did. Chad Henne looks better, but there are still wrinkles there. Any year where you win the division the year before and then don’t make the playoffs the next is hard. They will be a .500 squad next year for sure.
Buffalo Bills (6-10): C-
Nothing to see here. Boring, boring, boring football team with a boring fan base. Just miserable. I actually consider the Bills to be in CFL now. I’m not sure if they moved to Sacramento anybody on either coast would notice. Terrell Owens had a mediocre year at best and I just can’t see him sticking around. He hates to lose and Buffalo lost five home games this year.
New Orleans Saints (13-3): A-
New Orleans started out of the box red hot but eventually showed a lot of vulnerability down the stretch. They could have easily lost an embarrassing game against the Redskins and they got beat at home against a Cowboys team that dominated them for three quarters. They have some amazing wide receivers and then all of a sudden they just aren’t open.
Atlanta Falcons (9-7): B-
The Falcons aren’t bad, but they aren’t good either and Atlanta is a perfect example of a situation where the team has a lot of weapons but they don’t always come together when it’s time to fire them.
Carolina Panthers (8-8) C+ / B-
I actually watched the Panthers-Vikings game not thinking it was going to be exciting but I was very impressed with what I saw from them. I think they had a bad year and got hot just a couple weeks too late. And it’s a shame too because that Jonathan Stewart kid can run. Steve Smith is still a big play receiver. Too little, too late…
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-13): D-
Bad move to fire Gruden. There’s no way those guys come out nearly as uninspired if he’s still there. Big defensive problems, and it’s just too easy to find a mismatch against that team. Need to really decide on a quarterback once and for all.
Arizona Cardinals (10-6): B+
Ho Hum. Again, they’re in the NFC West so their competition isn’t that stiff. Warner had a few good games but you have to wonder how much is left in that horse. Tim Hightower has shown a lot of promise though.
San Francisco 49ers (8-8) C
Improvement, but not enough. This is a team that is exactly what their record says they are. There are still a lot of hungry egos on that team. Crabtree not getting a lot of blocking for starters, and just not enough offensive movement in general.
Seattle Seahawks (5-11): F
To be perfectly honest with you, I’m just not going to list all of the problems the Seahawks had this past season. (and last) What I will say is that Jim Mora Jr. is clearly not a head football coach in the NFL. He’d be a fair college coach, but I think after they pull the plug on him this will end up being his last NFL gig. But in summation, way too many problems to list in one paragraph. It does further prove my point that the year the Seahawks went to the Super Bowl the NFC was super weak. And 5-11 in a year where the Rams were in your division and they only won one game?
St. Louis Rams (1-15): F-
I actually read a rumor on the internet the other day that some Omaha businessman who owns a chain of steakhouses is trying to buy the team and move it to Des Moines, Iowa. Talk about a fucking reality check for the state of your franchise.
Dallas Cowboys (11-5) A-
Hey, they ended up winning the division. Go figure. I still think the Eagles are the better team. But it’s time to see the Cowboys win a playoff game. It’s crunch time for them in a big way this weekend. If they can’t take the next step in the postseason against a division rival there’s going to be a lot of upset fans and upset management.
Philadelphia Eagles (11-5): A
The Eagles have a really good future ahead of them because of Desean Jackson. He’s an absolute pain in the ass to cover and that franchise has needed a big play guy since TO left. They also have Celek and Avant so DJ can have a game where he only gets 6 or 7 touches and still be explosive. Philly is solid and can get to the big one because they match up well with both the Vikings and the Saints.
New York Giants (8-8): C-
When you don’t tackle, it’s hard to stop someone, and when it’s hard to stop someone you don’t win a lot of games down the stretch when you’re in the playoff hunt. (a playoff hunt you’re involved in only because you started the season 5-0) Lot of egos here as well. Defense had issues from the very start of the year, and the offense fell off considerably after week eleven. Need to draft some young defensive stars and build around them.
Washington Redskins (4-12): D
$100 million for Albert Haynesworth? Ouch…$50 million for Mike Shanahan? Seems to me the Redskins have a lot of money lately. I wonder if they’ll have enough money to airlift the stadium to Los Angeles when the Governator rejects the Jaguars’ offer. Jason Campbell might be on his way out because this is the last year he’s going to have any trade value if he continues to play like he has been playing.
Minnesota Vikings (12-4): B+
B+ considering all of the hype and expectations surrounding a team like the Vikings. Adrian Peterson does still fumble the ball, and obviously Brett Favre is the coach of that football team. Jared Allen will probably end up being Defensive player of the year, but I can’t see them going to the Super Bowl.
Green Bay Packers (11-5): A-
I can’t really argue the kid is tough man he’s stepped up and made some big throws and taken some big hits. So good for him. Their defense is also good. Offensively, they just need to focus on not turning the ball over in key situations, and they should be fine. If there’s a playoff sleeper, it’s the Green Bay Packers for sure, much more so than the Cardinals or Cowboys.
Chicago Bears (7-9): C- / D+
Not to toot my own horn, but I had this pegged. I said at the beginning of the year that the Chicago Bears were a 7 win team and they are. Nothing spectacular, and it’s pretty clear with the way that division is headed they’ll only be jockeying for third place for a while. As it turns out the Jay Cutler trade was a disaster, and it’s not over yet as he’s their guy now and they’re totally committed to him. Bears had a BAD turnover ratio this year and a lot of the blame has to fall on Cutler.
Detroit Lions (2-14): D+
Matthew Stafford cruised through his first season with very little criticism because they had a winless season last year. He clearly still thinks he’s in college and he is having issues with turnovers. Still not going to be a six or 7 win team for a while. Should be interesting to see how long they give him to “develop”.
This was a pretty good year in the NFL but it’ll be defined by what happens from here on out, as there are a lot of questions to be answered. Will the Cowboys get their first playoff win in over ten years? Will Donovan McNabb be rewarded with another chance to win the Super Bowl? Are the Saints for real? Are the Colts for real? Did somebody really let the Jets into the playoffs? Which Bengals team will show up? Will Brett Favre retire if Minnesota gets blown out right out of the box? Will Kurt Warner give God props if they can somehow win that game? And shouldn’t home field advantage in the playoffs be determined by your record and not whether or not you won your division?
Next week I’ll be ripping into the Cowboys like crazy if they lose so stay tuned for that.