I'm back with another one of these A-to-Z season previews. I dropped the ball and missed out on the NCAA Football preview last week, but school has been keeping me pretty busy. But I've got time today! Therefore, I give you this year's NFL preview from A-to-Z. Keep in mind it may be slightly more Dolphins-centric, since, you know, that's my team. But for the most part, it will cover the entire league, or at least what I deem worthy.
A is for Arbitrary. As in Roger Goodell's arbitrary suspensions. Just curious to see how many players will receive some of those arbitrary suspensions this season. My bet is that Shawne Merriman has one coming his way.
B is for Brady. As in Tom Brady, and Brady Quinn, too. How will Tom Brady come back from his multiple knee surgeries in the last year? Many suspect the Patriots' offense will be just as potent as it was in 2007, when they finished 18-1. Brady Quinn, on the other hand, was just named the starter for the Browns. I'm curious to see how he fares, if for no other reason than to be flustered with Cam Cameron again for passing on him in the 2007 draft.
C is for Cutler. As in Jay Cutler, who has a new home in Chicago, and a fresh start. Did the Broncos really trade him for KYLE ORTON? C'mon now, we all know who got the better end of that deal, not let's see Cutler prove to everyone that he is an elite QB in this league. If Rex Grossman could "lead" the Bears to the Super Bowl, then the possibilities are limitless for someone like Cutler.
D is for Defense. Because it wins championships. As cliche as they might be, it is also true. Just look at the list of Super Bowl winners of recent years and find a team that didn't have a great defense. While the NFL is loaded with talented defenses, I'm curious to see which defense will step it up to championship level this year. You'll see which team's defense I predict will do that further down this list.
E is for Excellent. The word I believe will describe the hiring ot Jon Gruden to the booth for Monday Night Football. In the preseason, when news broke of Mike Vick's signing with the Eagles, he already gave us a gem when he said Vick would sell more number 7 jerseys than Jaws did with his time in Philadelphia. On-screen gold, and I look forward to his commentary this season.
F is for F*vre. Everyone's "favorite," and I use that term loosely, F-word. It'll be interesting to see how he fares in Minnesota, if for no other reason than that offense could be potent if he plays well with Adrian Peterson, Bernard Berrian and Percy Harvin. Also, I'm sure the whole world will tune in to watch him take on the Packers, especially when they play at Lambeau.
G is for Go routes. As in, the only route that Darrius Heyward-Bay will be effective when running in Oakland, since that's what he was good at while he was in Maryland, and since he has blazing 4.3 speed. Honestly, the Raiders definitely reached when they took him that early in the first round of this year's draft.
H is for HAKEEM NICKS! I don't think there's much to say here, except HOW DID HE DROP THIS FAR INTO THE FIRST ROUND?!? In all seriousness, I think he's going to fill that void left by Plaxico Burress, who will be catching Giants games from his prison cell for the next couple of seasons.
I is for Imperfect no longer. The 2008 Detroit Lions became the only team to go winless in an NFL season. With a new head coach, new quarterback, and of course Megatron to throw to, there's no way they go imperfect again, right? Right?!?
J is for Jerry Jones. Or "Jerruh" as some like to refer to him. What was he thinking in making that monstrous scoreboard hang that low over the field? One, it makes it difficult for fans in the nosebleeds to see the action on the field, because who goes to a football game to watch it on the big screen? Two, we all saw what happens when a punter boots the ball and it bounces off the scoreboard. It's only going to end up being a hassle for everyone involved, since it'll be a replay of down. I also wonder how long it will be before a desperate QB launches a ball of the scoreboard just to get a replay of down, and whether or not that will become an issue this season.
K is for Keeping OT the same. Okay, I admit this letter was a stretch, but it's the only place I had left to make this point. Last season, we saw a tie in an NFL game. That's not cool. I penned this open letter to Goodell urging him to adopt the college overtime system, but apparently he didn't get the memo, and thus, kept the overtime system the same.
L is for LIGHTS OUT! As in lights out for Shawne Merriman's time in San Diego after this season. Unless he truly has a monster season, the Chargers will likely let him become a free agent at season's end, in which case, he will be a very valuable addition to any defense next year.
M is for Marhsall. As in Brandon Marshall. He threw a memorable hissy-fit in the preseason, and apparently is now in contract negotiations with the Broncos. That can only be a good thing for that team because a happy wide receiver is a productive wide receiver, and Kyle Orton will need all the help he can get in his first year with the Broncos, trying to satisfy the fanbase.
N is for Neckbeard. Because it's both glorious, and awful at the same time. I just needed an excuse to link to Kyle Orton's, especially because he'll need it for the Denver winter. It will also be interesting to see how he performs there after being traded in the offseason
O is for Ochocinco. The outspoken Bengals WR said via Twitter that he was going to give the NFL "hell" this season. Hilarity is sure to ensue.
P is for Playoffs?!? Mostly because this clip of Jim Mora never gets old, but also because it's the main difference between college and the NFL. While bowl season in college is awesome, it doesn't compare to the NFL playoffs in magnitude.
Q is for Quickie von Quick Quick. You know those Nike SPARQ commercials with LT holding a press conference, and it has a bunch of other athletes bragging about their speed. Well LT says his quick smells like french toast. I don't know what that means, but I wonder if he will actually rebound from a down season and return to the LT that made opposing Fantasy Football owners nervous every weekend. If he does, the Chargers have a legitimate shot at the Super Bowl, because they are talented.
R is for Rookies. Mainly here, I'm talking about Matt Stafford. He was named the Lions starting QB, and (un)lucky him, he gets to open the season on the road, in New Orleans against a good Saints team. Also lucky for him, anything is an improvement for that team after last season's debacle, so he can only improve them. Other impact rookies to look out for: Percy Harvin in Minnesota, Mark Sanchez, who will also be starting at QB as a rookie for the Jets. Also keep an eye on Aaron Curry of the Seahawks, Jeremy Maclin of the Eagles and a sleeper alert on Sean Smith of the Dolphins, who had a huge preseason, and could turn into a stud defensive back.
S is for Super Bowl. So I guess this will be my preseason Super Bowl prediction. I really like the Chargers in the AFC, with Phillip Rivers, Vincent Jackson, Antonio Gates and a rejuvenated LT, plus that defense of theirs. In the NFC, I have a feeling the Packers have what it takes, because Aaron Rodgers has looked great in the preseason, and their defense has looked good, too. But what do I know?
T is for Ted Ginn, Jr. I went in-depth on this topic in the preseason, but I'll say it again: I think this is the year that Ginn becomes the go-to receiver that the Dolphins expected him to be when they drafted him.
U is for Unsigned hype. Because that's all that 49ers receiver Michael Crabtree is at this point. It's just days before the 49ers kickoff their season, and Crabtree is sill unsigned. The kid has all the talent in the world for his position, but that talent is useless to the team when you're not signed with them.
V is for Vick. Just a few weeks into the season, we will get to see Michael Vick's first regular season game in the NFL since 2006. He's a backup now, but the Eagles will make him the most significant backup QB in the league when they use him in a "wildcat" package, and anytime they play him and Donovan McNabb together, it should be interesting. Though, I'm sure if McNabb struggles at any point, Philly fans will be calling for Vick to take over as starter.
W is for Wildcat. One season after the Dolphins unleashed the Wildcat offense on the New England Patrios, it seems everyone wants a piece of it. The 'Phins drafted Pat White as a wildcat quarterback, the Vikings will probably do the same with Harvin and Peterson at some point, and we know what the Eagles have planned with Vick and McNabb.
X is for the Wild Card winners. You know, since they're denoted by an X in the standings. In the AFC, I'll take the Ravens and the Dolphins (because I'm a homer), but if not the Dolphins, then a South division team, like the Titans. In the NFC, I'm going with the Eagles and the Bears.
Y is for the division winners. They're denoted by a Y in the standings, so I'll give my predictions. AFC East: Patriots. North: Steelers. South: Colts. West: Chargers. NFC East: Giants. North: Packers. South: Saints. West: Cardinals.
Z is for Zorn. As in Jim Zorn, the head coach for the Redskins. Mostly because it's hard to come up with something that begins with the letter Z, but also because he was 8-8 last year in his first year with Washington. Vegas has them at over/under 8 wins. This season, I'll take the under on that, because they're division is deep. I think they'll finish 7-9.