The Complete 2009 NFL Preview: Cheerleader Edition

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Gentlemen, the wait is almost over. That’s right, we’re talking NFL football, 2009! With the season starting September 10, we thought we’d get you ready with a complete run-down of how all the teams are looking going into this year. And to top it all off, we’ve included tons of the hottest cheerleaders the NFL has to offer. So grab your beer helmet, your chips and dip, and get ready for the next five months of football action with COED’s 2009 NFL Preview: Cheerleader Edition.

AFC EAST

Last season the AFC East was altered by a devastating injury to Tom Brady that allowed two of 2007’s worst teams to improve by 10 (Miami) and 5 games (NYJ). Miami started the “Wildcat” trend that allowed Rickey Williams and Ronnie Brown to destroy defenses. Farve ran the Jets until his arm wore out and Buffalo finished the last ten games of the season 2-8.

NE Patriots

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New England Patriots

Good: The Pats get the 2007 MVP back from a career threatening knee injury throwing to the same record setting receivers Moss and Welker while adding Joey Galloway. The defense will be stuffing the run with possibly the strongest defensive line in the history of the 3-4 with Seymour, Wilfork and Ty Warren. These linemen will allow the stacked LB corps to run free.

Bad: New England added 33-year-old Fred Taylor to a very old and weak running back list on an offense lacking depth. The only exposed area on the other side of the ball is the defensive backfield. At this point the only starter with a secure position is Brandon Meriweather who is in his third year.

Big Question:Will Brady return to MVP form after a year of setbacks to his injured knee? Can the defense put enough pressure on opponents quarterback to overcome deficiencies in the backfield?

Season Expectations: They will win 12 games if Brady is healthy even if the defensive backfield is not improved. They have the best chance in the AFC to reach the Superbowl if they can beat Indianapolis.

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New York Jets

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New York Jets

Good: The Jets return possibly strongest offensive line in football with 3 likely Pro Bowlers in Mangold, Ferguson, and Faneca. Running back Thomas Jones and backup Leon Washington will both see a ton of touches after both being selected to the Pro Bowl last year. Two third year stars, DB Darrelle Revis and LB David Harris, will lead the potential heavy defense with new head coach Rex Ryan.

Bad: The passing game will take a major hit not replacing starting receiver Laveranues Coles or resolving the starting quarterback situation before preseason. The offense will take a beating this season and the Jets defense may wear out from being on the field most of the game.

Big Question: Will rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez be the star the Jets need to be successful? How will the Jets offense run under a defensive guru?

Season Expectations: They will win 7 or 8 games with a new quarterback and defensive minded head coach.

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Buffalo Jills

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Buffalo Bills

Good: A person could argue that adding Terrell Owens to the offense will benefit a previously below average passing game. Pro Bowl running back Marshawn Lynch will return (after his suspension) and the defense as a whole is very good. The Bills have playmakers all over the field on defense.

Bad: Terrell “The Cancer” Owens has been added to an offense while the Bill’s other star serves a 3 game suspension for Gun Possession. Trent Edwards should see a lot of dirt behind an awful offensive line. The defense’ only weakness is the injury bug that bit 06 and 07 Pro Bowler Aaron Schobel and most of the defense.

Big Question: How long will it take T.O. to go crazy and ruin another team? Is he worth it? Can the Bills defense save the season?

Season Expectations: TO will make at least 5 outrageous claims and cry on TV again. I don’t see how the GM keeps his job after assembling this team. If they win more than 4 games it will be a fluke. The Bills are one of the worst teams in the AFC.

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Miami Dolphins

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Miami Dolphins

Good: The Wildcat Offense, Ronnie Brown, and coach Tony Sparano are making this offense something people pay attention to every week. Chad Pennington and the offensive line are vastly underrated and defensive end Jason Taylor returns to the team that made him a star (before dancing).

Bad: As much fun as this offense is to watch, the Dolphins have not (yet) signed a wide receiver. Pennington and the unpredictable play calling get credit for the overachieving passing attack last year. The Dolphins passing game is weak without a reliable receiver. With as many good free agents available, the solution should be easy (Harrison, Darrell Jackson, Reggie Williams, Jerry Porter).

Big Question: Will the Dolphins have enough new tricks to confuse defenses for a second year?

Season Expectations: Pennington will lead the team to 10 regular season victories and win a playoff game yet be replaced by the beginning of the 2010 season.

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NFC EAST

The Cowboys remained the soap opera of the NFL last year with Tony and T.O. finally breaking up after starting 4-1. New York proved again that wins come from the linemen as Eli Manning played well enough to avoid failure. He is living proof that fans should not decide Pro Bowl selections. The Eagles tried to find a reason to remove McNabb from the starting lineup and the Redskins confused everyone by beating very good teams and losing to San Francisco, St. Louis and Cincinnati.

Dallas Cowboys

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Dallas Cowboys

Good: Tony Romo stayed and T.O. left. The offense still has TE Jason Witten and RB Marion Barber as two of the most underrated threats in the NFL. The offense has rare depth at most positions. The defense picked up linebacker Keith Brooking to fill gaps while 2008 sack leader DeMarcus Ware does his Derrick Thomas impersonation.

Bad: Jerry Jones is the second most over controlling owner in football. At some point this season expect him to add a felon or some other broken player to a very strong team. Wide receiver is the only position that is a legitimate hole.

Big Question: Will Romo find a new deep threat in the passing game? How will Jerry Jones decide to complicate a good team?

Season Expectations: There are no real weaknesses on paper and the team should go 12-4. This could be the most talented team in the NFL however head coach, Wade Philips, seems to lack the ability to lead. The team will likely go 9-7 losing the close games.

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New York Giants

Good: The Giants are amazingly strong and deep at running back and on the offensive line. The team will run all game long, even if it is hit with injuries. The defensive line plays with the same philosophy as the offensive running game, “fresh legs win games,” and boasts two probable Pro Bowlers this year in DEs Tuck and Umenyiora.

Bad: New York has not added anyone to a 12-4 team that needed help in the passing game after the mid-season loss their star receiver Burress. Derrick Ward and Amani Toomer are also gone, losing 124 receptions and adding inexperience. The defensive backs are young and will need a lot of help.

Big Question: Can Manning make his team better or will he do just enough to avoid mistakes?

Season Expectations: Being that the Giants are one dimensional on offense, their success will be gauged by the defense. This will be a disappointing season at 8 wins.

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Washington Redskins

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Washington Redskins

Good: Offensively, coach Jim Zorn is successful with a few good pieces that overachieve every game. Clinton Portis, Santana Moss and Chris Cooley are not surrounded by much but in terms of talent or depth but play like Pro Bowlers routinely. The Redskins now have the ability to dominate the line of scrimmage because of the addition of DT Albert Haynesworth. He makes an average defense into a very good one.

Bad: The age of the entire offense is the biggest concern for this team. The Redskins have not drafted an offensive player in the first round since 2005. Who needs a GM when your owners draft and sign players this well? This strong offensive line has not been completely healthy since 2006 and is the reason for last year’s breakdown for the last 8 games.

Big Question: How long can Jim Zorn keep his job without players that fit together? Can Jason Campbell become the quarterback the team needs.

Season Expectations: Expect many injuries to the offense. Winning 5 games is about where they will end the season.

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Philly Eagles

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Philadelphia Eagles

Good: In Donovan McNabb Philadelphia should trust. He has enough tools on this offense to dominate every game this year. With the addition of Michael Vick Philadelphia should be able to run plays that will destroy defenses. Westbrook looks like the second coming of Marshall Faulk in nearly every way when he plays behind the Eagles offensive line. The addition of safety Sean Jones will make up for the loss of fan favorite Dawkins.

Bad: In the off-season Eagles lost 10-year defensive coordinator Jim Johnson to cancer. His relevance to the team cannot be understated. The Eagles have been ranked in the top 4 defensively five of his years with the team.

Big Question: Will McNabb be stopped? How will the team react to the loss of a great defensive mind?

Season Expectations: The Eagles are one of the best teams in the NFL. This team should win 12 games with their talent alone but coaching will be the deciding factor for success. Philadelphia is the most likely team to reach the Superbowl from the NFC.

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AFC NORTH

2008 saw another version of the Steel Curtain as the Steelers won their record 6th Superbowl. Fans are stuck with lasting image of James Harrison running what seemed to be the slowest 100 yards in NFL history. Baltimore returned to being a top 3 defense but Cincinnati and Cleveland fought their hardest to show what craptacular football was all about. With new coaching for the Browns and the Bengals getting their injured stars back this division should be very tough.

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Pittsburgh Steelers

Good: The only outstanding player on the offense was Ben Roethlisberger throwing 32 for touchdowns. Safety Troy Polamalu could have won Defensive-Player-of-the-Year but linebacker James Harrison walked away with the honors on a team that finished as the NFL’s best defense.

Bad: Every year people ask, “Who is the idiot that makes the personnel decisions for this team?” and every year people are shown that GM Kevin Colbert knows his stuff. This year is different. He drafted garbage and did not replace 3 very good players, the usual Steeler off-season mystery.

Big Question: How can a team with no real star players return to the Superbowl? Can they repeat?

Season Expectations: The Pittsburgh’s formula for successes should not work in a world that can statistically quantify everything players do. No Steeler is physically exceptional compared to NFL stars. Nothing the team does is precise. Pittsburgh puts the 11 toughest players on the field every play and play best when games matter most. They will probably finish 13-3 and will stomp their way through the NFL but they are the third best team in the AFC this season. No repeat for the champs.

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Cincinnati Bengals

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Cincinnati Bengals

Good: Former stars Carson Palmer and Chad Ocho Cinco should return to form after significant injuries last year. On paper, this team should be much better after adding receiver Laveranues Coles, safety Roy Williams and rookie left tackle Andre Smith. They can’t get much worse than last year.

Bad: Losing receiver TJ Houshmandzadeh will hurt but he is the only significant loss and has been replaced. The GM has not provided much for Marvin Lewis to coach on defense.

Big Question: Does Plamer stay healthy all season? Can the Bengals be the sleeper team of the NFL? Is Coach Marvin Lewis cut out to be a head coach?

Season Expectations: Injuries greatly limited Cincinnati last year. This team will be successful if the linemen can keep Palmer safe and the defense plays to half of their potential. They should win 7 high scoring games.

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Baltimore Ravens

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Baltimore Ravens

Good: Last year’s rookie quarterback Joe Flacco made few mistakes because he was protected by a very good offensive line and a powerful running game. The defense has returned to the former dominance with a talented defensive backfield and a highly aggressive linebacker group.

Bad: Joe Flacco is lacking reliable receivers. The team lost its defensive coordinator Rex Ryan and two defensive starters to the Jets.

Big Question: Will Baltimore have another drop-off on defense or can they stay dominant?

Season Expectations: Flacco didn’t have any standout receivers last year and won 11 games. This year is he is older and presumably better. The offense should improve. They are missing the leadership from their former defensive coordinator so the other side of the ball may see a significant dip in production. 9 wins betting the defense gets worse.

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Cleveland Browns

Good: Eric Mangini is every bit the genius coach that people called him when he started with the Jets. He will assume an underachieving offense that, with some leadership, could dominate. The starting quarterback is unknown but both are very talented. The defensive line is very large and could be very good because of the system they play in.

Bad: The offense doesn’t lack athleticism or talent at any position however they showed no heart and seemed to quit when quarterback Derek Anderson didn’t spark the offense like he did in 07. The defense will be beaten up all year because they have no pass rush or pass defense to speak of.

Big Question: Can Mangini put an offense together that will fight all year long? Will the lack of a consistent pass defense sink the Browns chances?

Season Expectations: Mangini is a miracle worker and should have never been fired by the Jets. Expect this team to fight to the end with either quarterback. Games will be high scoring affairs with the Browns only winning 6.

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NFC NORTH

Aaron Rodgers should have been a Pro Bowl quarterback last year after replacing future Hall-of-Fame quarterback Brett Farve. Rodgers played through constant injuries with Green Bay in his first year as a starter. Chicago beat some teams out of their league last year with great coaching, defense and quite a bit of luck. Minnesota had quarterback issue so they just ran and ran and ran some more with Adrian Peterson leading the NFL in yards from scrimmage. Detroit became the first team to loose all 16 games in a season taking the futility to a spectacular new low.

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Green Bay Packers

Good: Aaron Rodgers is an absolute beast when he is healthy. The NFL should be embarrassed to have allowed the NFC’s 6th best quarterback (Eli Manning) to the Pro Bowl instead. The offense averaged 26 points per game and returns every starter. The defense is young and hyper-athletic. Dom Capers is one of the most capable defensive coordinators and will help the team improve.

Bad: An offensive line that helped produce the 5th best scoring attack in the game should not be as bad as this one. Rodgers was beaten relentlessly. The defense has now switched to the 3-4 with players who are more fitted for the 4-3.

Big Question: What Ryan Grant will return this season, the explosive 5.1 yard per carry stud from 2007 or the hesitant 3.9 yard per carry player from 2008?

Season Expectations: The offensive line will solidify after its second season together as a unit and the defense will get their leader back in LB Nick Barnett. There will be a drastic change in defensive mentality. This is a playoff team and probably the second best in the NFC if the offensive line gets better. This is a 12 win team when they are healthy.

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Minnesota Vikings

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Minnesota Vikings

Good: Brett Farve is exactly what the Vikings need as a leader and passer. Adrian Peterson and the offensive line maul opponent defenses. Peterson is one of the most entertaining players in the NFL to watch and is reminiscent of Bo Jackson. The team returns the best run stopping defense in the league that also happened to finish 4th in sacks.

Bad: Pat Williams and Kevin Williams, two of the best defensive linemen on the team, are facing four game suspensions by the NFL for testing positive for banned substances (not steroids).

Big Question: Will defensive end Jared Allen’s “Mullet-Power” be enough to overcome a below average pass defense? Can Brett Farve still lead teams to victory?

Season Expectations: With the addition of Brett Farve, a good team in a very tough division has turned into one of the top 4 teams in the NFL. The Vikings will dominate on offense and defense. Stopping other teams from throwing on them will be the only struggle. This is a 13 win team as long as Peterson and Farve are healthy.

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Chicago Bears

Good: This off-season Chicago traded draft picks and one of the most inconsistent QBs in the league for the Pro Bowler Jay Cutler. Da Bears also have two of the most disruptive players at their respective positions in DT Tommy Harris and LB Brian Urlacher.

Bad: The team lacks wide receivers for Culter to throw to and a good offensive line is getting old in a hurry. The defensive backfield lacks a leader and the team as a whole is missing depth.

Big Question: Can this team stay healthy enough to win many games?

Season Expectations: If the Bears loose a starter at any position, it will be devastating. The team is going to have to run or throw short passes to the tight ends and running back because Devin Hester is not a reliable wide receiver. They will win 6 games but they could sneak up on anyone with their high scoring defense and special teams. Expect injuries to keep them out of the playoff hunt.

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Detroit Lions

Good: Wide receiver Calvin Johnson is the real deal in every way. He will go to his first Pro Bowl this season. Dante Culpepper is still a good quarterback that has played behind some of the worst offensive lines in recent history. Defensively the team added line backer Julian Peterson.

Bad: Incompetent ownership is what’s wrong with this team. The Lions are reaping the consequences of poor decisions that have been happening since before Barry Sanders gave up. The Lions have not drafted well or brought in quality players at vital positions for years. The offensive and defensive lines are the most important units on any team and Detroit consistently ignores them. Bringing in a mobile quarterback does not negate the need for quality offensive linemen.

Big Question: Can the coaching staff come up with a strategy to protect the quarterback? A team can’t go 0-32, can they?

Season Expectations: On the schedule there are a few teams that the Lions have a chance to beat but any opponent with a below average defense and a sober coach should be able to blitz the Lions into submission. If the Lions win more than 2 games, the coaching staff should keep their jobs (because you can’t fire an owner). The draft is only eight months away.

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AFC SOUTH

Tennessee looked like the best team in the NFL in 2008 winning the first 11 games with outstanding defense and an amazing running attack. Indianapolis had another outstanding 12-win season that seemed to be overlooked due to injuries and the slow start to the season. Houston played themselves out of the playoff hunt early but finished strong and Jacksonville disappointed everyone after the strong 2007 season.

Tennessee Titans

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Tennessee Titans

Good: Vince Young is the future for the Titans and will take over at quarterback for 37 year old Collins at some point during the season. The offensive line and running backs are very good. The defense isn’t star studded but plays well as a unit and tied for 3rd in forcing turnovers.

Bad: The Titans play with the worst Pro Bowl QB in recent memory (possibly ever) and they lost their best player, DT Albert Haynesworth. The team did little in free agency and will have to fill significant holes with rookies and other unproven players.

Big Question: When will Vince Young return to the lineup? How much will the Titans miss Haynesworth’s ability to single-handedly collapse the opposing pocket?

Season Expectations: The Titans won with defense and there is little to suggest that the team will be able to match their previous success. Teams have had 4 months to prepare for a team that has not gotten better. Tennessee will get close to a playoff birth with 8 wins but they won’t improve unless Young returns with confidence.

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Indianapolis Colts

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Indianapolis Colts

Good: Peyton Manning will turn out to be the best quarterback ever. Manning is surrounded by a good supporting cast capable of being all-stars when they play with him. Defensively, the line is very fast and disruptive. The defensive backs take advantage most of the mistake that the line forces.

Bad: Wide receiver Marvin Harrison and running back Dominic Rhodes were released in the off-season and coach Tony Dungy retired. Each was vital to the Superbowl run from of 2006. Line backer remains the Colts weakest position since 2002.

Big Question: How far can the Colts go without Dungy as coach? What changes will be made under new leadership?

Season Expectations: The Colts are the NFL’s model for consistent success. This game plan produced at least 12 wins each of the last six seasons. New head coach Jim Cladwell is will keep the same dominant program that Dungy used. Indy will win 13 games and should reach the AFC title game where the defense will be the deciding factor in a win.

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Jax Jaguars

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Good: Maurice Jones-Drew does everything a running back can do to help a team. David Gerard is an All-star caliber QB when he is protected and this year the team has added one of the most reliable receivers in the game in Tory Holt. The team was devastated by injuries to more than 10 starters last year. The Jags should see a vast improvement after getting healthy in the off-season.

Bad: Jacksonville did not resign Fred Taylor and lost 2 starters to the offensive line who were replaced by inexperienced players. They neglected to shore up a weak defensive line along with losing LB Mike Peterson.

Big Question: Can the rookies drafted in the first 2 rounds replace the holes on the offensive line left by Barnes and Naeole?

Season Expectations: The offense will be upgraded at most positions. The defense should have picked up some more veteran help however this does allow for ton of room for a very young group. This team will win 8 or more wins this year but the schedule. The team will be much better than last year because health was the major reason for all the losses.

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Houston Texans

Good: Andre Johnson is the biggest, baddest and most athletic wide receiver in the NFL right now. He is what Terrell Owens was 8 years ago before he realized crazy was in. He combines with a talent heavy receiving group and a very underrated running back group. Defensively the linebackers and line are young and very quick. These units should produce at least 3 Pro Bowlers this season.

Bad: The quarterback and offensive linemen should improve but should not to be relied upon to win big games. The Texans defensive backfield will be beaten like a drum often this year. The unit is a wreck outside of CB Dunta Robinson and was somehow forgotten in the off-season.

Big Question: Can the offensive line protect the quarterback this year after giving up 32 sacks and allowing an injury to Matt Schaub?

Season Expectations: The Texans are a good team on paper. Everyone besides the DBs should be good. This is a sleeper team that could surprise or completely fail. This is going to be a rough year for head coach Gary Kubiak. He will beat very good teams and loose to bad ones because he is overly aggressive with his play calling. This team will win 7 games.

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NFC South

Atlanta was a massive surprise last season as quarterback Matt Ryan won rookie of the year and the free agent pick up Michael Turner came in second in the NFL MVP voting. Drew Brees was the best quarterback in the NFC and ended the year as the Offensive Player of the Year for New Orleans. Carolina finished the season with 12 wins and looking like a Superbowl favorite. Tampa Bay surprised most by starting 9-3 and losing the final 4 games.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Good: The Buccaneers have a great offensive line capable of dominating through run blocking. If you add that to the 4 stud running backs, there should be virtually no pressure on the quarterback to throw.  Adding former Pro Bowl TE Kellen Winslow won’t hurt the offense either.

Bad: After the team upgraded the offense, the Bucs didn’t seem to add anything to the defense. Tampa Bay also picked up a 4th running back to a strong lineup without replacing future Hall of Fame LB Derrick Brooks is questionable. The overhaul in coaching was a mistake as well. Jon Gruden was fired and arguably the best defensive coordinator in the NFL left to coach at the University of Tennessee.

Big Question: How will the Buccaneers overcome the lack of defense and experience at QB? Will the 32-year-old head coach Rasheem Morris be able to replace Jon “Chucky” Gruden?

Season Expectations: This will be one of the worst teams in the NFL this season. The team will not be able to produce wins if they can’t stop any offense. This team should see a top 3 pick in the NFL by losing all but 3 games. The team will get much better, just not this year.

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Atlanta Falcons

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Atlanta Falcons

Good: Atlanta has a great combination of Pro Bowlers in Michael Turner, Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez. These 3 with Rookie of the Year Ryan and the offense should be stellar. The defense should be as good as last year with the off-season improvement of 3 rookie starters from last year.

Bad: The Falcons are relying on a lot of youth on both sides of the ball. The team was 24th on defense and will struggle to replace the wisdom of former LB Keith Brookings, Safety Lawyer Milloy and a few others.

Big Question: Can the team expect greatness from their youth this year? Will Matt Ryan fall into the sophomore slump?

Season Expectations: The defense was not good last year, giving up 24th most yards. The Falcons played well as a team though and didn’t give up as many points as you would have expected. This team is good and getting better. Don’t expect Ryan to go to the Pro Bowl this year but he does have all the tools to be successful. This team will win 10 games and probably make the playoffs.

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New Orleans Saints

Good: Drew Brees is proving to be one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL leading his team to become the best offense last year. He is one of the few players makes his teammates better. The defense added older yet dominant players in DT Rod Coleman and SS Darren Sharper.

Bad: Time management was the Saints worst enemy last year. New Orleans won 8 games last year on the highest scoring team because they gave up an unacceptable amount of points. The running game needs to work this season so the clock will run or the defense needs to get better against the pass so opponents won’t score as quickly.

Big Question: Will the free agent additions be enough to fix a very bad defense?

Season Expectations: The Saints are a boom or bust team this year in a division with weak defenses. They play against the 3 of the best teams and the 3 absolute worst. Predicting the rest is hard but they should get 9 wins.

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Carolina Panthers

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Carolina Panthers

Good: DeAngelo Williams and Steve Smith are NFL MVP candidates because the Panthers do a great job of getting their playmakers the ball. The team looses one starter to a team that obviously knows how to win while getting younger in through a very good draft.

Bad: It is hard to pick on a team that is young and deep at most positions however quarterback is the most important single position in the NFL and Jake Delhomme is physically fragile. He is good for one big play every game and a great leader but Jake is a below average passer. If he is injured there is no one to replace what he does.

Big Question: What was it that made last year’s Panthers successful? Can they get the close wins that defined last season?

Season Expectations: Last year’s losses were beatings that made the Panthers look like they should have gone 0-16. Add the postseason whoop’n Arizona put on them and it makes you question what this team is really made of. Feel free to bet on the Panthers in the first half of the regular season. They look good on paper and should grind many teams into the dirt. The last 6 games of the season will be killer but they should win 9 games. Until the defense becomes elite there is no reason to expect a post season win.

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AFC WEST

The 2008 AFC West was arguably the NFL’s biggest collective embarrassment this decade going 11-41 outside of the division. Corky would tell you that the division is “not good?”. The two top teams both went 8-8 proving that realignment may have been a grievous error. If Oakland and KC had bright spots on the year, there was no mention of them. Denver’s Pro Bowl Jay Cutler somehow lost games to the Bills and Raiders in the final 6 games of the season. San Diego won its final 4 games of the season and proved miracles do happen when they won a playoff game against the Colts. Phillip Rivers threw for most touchdowns and had the highest quarterback rating in the NFL but Kerry Collins made the Pro Bowl.

SD Chargers

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San Diego Chargers

Good: LaDainian Tomlinson is still the best running back in the NFL playing when behind a healthy offensive line. Phillip Rivers is a very smart QB who plays well without a traditional passing attack. San Diego gets 2007 All-Pro linebacker Shawne Merriman back from a devastating knee injury and returns the most physical defensive backfield in the game.

Bad: The Chargers did not add anyone of note to any of the weak positions. The wide receivers are still weak. San Diego waited until the 3rd round of the draft to address the needs of the offensive and defensive line.

Big Question: Will San Diego be the best of the worst again? Can coach Norv Turner survive the first month if the Chargers go 1-3?

Season Expectations: This season the Chargers will play possibly the weakest schedule in the NFL with one of the best offenses and a much-improved defense. If they can avoid injuries to Rivers and Merriman, this team will win 10 games.

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Denver Broncos

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Denver Broncos

Good: The best way for early success when a team has been overhauled the way the Broncos were is through a good offensive line. Denver certainly has one of the best young offensive lines in the NFL. The Broncos still have one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL in Champ Bailey and the linebackers are very athletic.

Bad: The Broncos fired Hall of Fame coach Mike Shanahan and hired Josh McDaniels who immediately alienated 1/3 of the team and ended up having to trade their 25-year-old Pro Bowl QB Jay Cutler. The defense is not built for the 3-4 but Denver might as well make the change since this unit was nearly the worst in the NFL last year.

Big Question: Can McDaniels get his team under control before there is a revolt?

Season Expectations: This will be a bad year for Bronco fans. The team locker room is a bad place to be right now and may get worse with talk of the Pro Bowl receiver Brandon Marshall being. Second-guessing will become more common as the losses mount due to McDaniels’ age (33) and disruptive agenda. This team could win 4 games this season and it seem that Bronco fans are prepared for that.

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Oakland Raiders

Good: The Raiders are always a circus of entertainment no matter how bad they are. Already a coach has been sent to the hospital due to a confrontation in a meeting. They also added two good players QB Jeff Garcia and LT Khalif Barnes to the 29th ranked offense. The defense also has the best LB you have never heard of in Kirk Morrison and a 4 time All Pro punter, Shane Lechler.

Bad: The ownership is legitimately crazy. The team drafts high every year yet the Raiders do not improve. Two of the best free agent acquisitions are both 38 years old. The team has 5 quarterbacks, 4 fullbacks and 2 punters while they have 3 safeties to cover both free safety and strong safety.

Big Question: When will coach Tom Cable get fired? How bad can this team be in the NFL’s worst division? What would it take to remove owner Al Davis?

Season Expectations: The Raiders are the hardest fighting team in the NFL, however this is not kickboxing. Since 2003 the Raiders have won 24 games, the Lions won 26 in the same period. This team is almost as bad as Detroit. The Raiders will win 1 game. A coin flip will decide who gets the top pick this year between the Raiders and Lions. Expect the Raiders to ruin that pick too.

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Kansas City Chiefs

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Kansas City Chiefs

Good: The team traded for QB Matt Cassel and picked up free agents G Mike Goff and LB Zach Thomas. The team still has future stars in WR Dwayne Bowe and LB Derrick Johnson.

Bad: The team traded future Hall of Fame TE Tony Gonzalez and kept running back Larry Johnson. Besides linebacker, the team has very little depth across the board. The team is switching to the popular 3-4 defense however there are only a few players on the defense that have played in that system and very few will fit. There will be many position changes this season.

Big Question: Does the new GM Scott Pioli know what he is doing? Can the new head coach Todd Haley recreate the offensive magic he produced in Arizona?

Season Expectations: This is in no way a very good team but they will drastically improve on the 2-14 record of 2008 but not enough to make the playoffs. Winning 7 games will be tough but doable. The second half of the season is very favorable to a young team that is learning.

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NFC WEST

If this division’s AFC counterpart was the worst in a long time, the NFC West was not far behind. The difference is that the Arizona Cardinals went were within a 35 seconds of winning Superbowl 43 even if the rest of the teams did the equivalent of mistaking the gender of the person they were trying to sleep with. The best teams San Francisco beat ended the season 9-7 and 8-8. Seattle was injury riddled and St. Louis didn’t have an excuse.

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Arizona Cardinals

Good: The Cardinals return the core of a passing game that produced sent a quarterback and 2 wide receivers to the Pro Bowl. Arizona drafted the perfect running back in Beanie Wells to take over for Edgerrin James. They also picked up 3 defenders through the draft and free agency that have a chance to start.

Bad: There is a lot missing from the defending NFC champions. Mainly, the defense can’t hold the line of scrimmage with the defensive linemen they have. The defense relies on gambles rather than solid defensive fundamentals to make up for a lack of athleticism.

Big Question: Can the Cardinals recreate the magic that produced a Superbowl run? Was the trip to the Superbowl a fluke?

Season Expectations: Arizona is an improved team but they face much improved competition in the NFC. There is an outside chance that they don’t even make the playoffs but it is unlikely. The team is good and will produce 10 wins against a much tougher schedule.

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Seattle Seagals

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Seattle Seahawks

Good: The Seahawks finally have a healthy roster including Pro Bowl QB Matt Hasselbeck who missed 9 games last season and add TJ Houshmandzadeh who caught at least 90 passes each of the last 3 seasons. The defense is very good at nearly every position.

Bad: The team lost coach Mike Holmgren after 10 seasons to retirement and the offense is aging quickly with former All Pro LT Walter Jones receiving 2 knee surgeries this off-season.

Big Question: Will Seattle return to NFC West dominance without Holmgren? Can the Seahawks avoid the devastating injuries that ruined last season’s team?

Season Expectations: All the problems Seattle had last season will be rectified if they can avoid half the injuries they saw last season. They are the best team in their division and should go to the playoffs with 11 wins. Head coach Jim Mora Jr. will change an offensive heavy team into a more balanced team.

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San Francisco 49ers Gold Rush

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San Francisco 49’ers

Good: Coach Mike Singletary is a great leader and this upcoming season will prove how well he can coach. The off-season was good to the 49ers as they added WR Michael Crabtree in the draft to add to a talented group of ball carriers. The other side of the ball returns the NFL’s single best LB in Patrick Willis.

Bad: San Francisco does not have a lot of good players. There is no clear starter at QB and the offensive line is bad giving up 55 sacks last year. The defense lacks a good defensive line that is essential to a 3-4 defense.

Big Question: Will the offensive line step up and protect the quarterback this year? Can Singletary produce wins the same bad team as last year?

Season Expectations: This will be a bad season for the 49ers. The offensive line will be the demise of the team. The team will probably give up 55 more sacks this year even if they rely on the running game. 4 wins is a little bit of a reach but Singletary will get the most out of a bad team.

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St. Louis Rams

Good: Steven Jackson is one of the best running backs in the game. He does everything and when healthy he produces no matter the situation. The team made the draft best decision they possibly could have by picking Jason Smith who is potentially the best offensive tackle in the NFC.

Bad: The Rams have the weakest selection of receivers in the league now that they released Tory Holt. This group of no-names will hurt the passing game no matter how much time the QB is given. Speaking of no-names, the defense looks like it will be unspectacular again after giving up the second most points in the NFL last year.

Big Question: Can this team be successful while bleeding points? Will Steven Jackson return to his dominant self?

Season Expectations: With all the problems on the defense, the offense has to produce. Surprisingly they will produce even with the lack of receivers. QB Marc Bulger is a good player and when he has time in the pocket he is great. Jason Smith will be a difference maker. When the games are over the score will not be in the Rams favor with the exception of possibly 3 games. The games they play will be shootouts but they will not overcome their lack of talent.

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