’07 NFL Preview
Steven Spielberg couldn't have worked with a more unbelievable script. The New Orleans Saints, a super-exciting, super-motivated band of talents, lived out its own fantasy a year ago and went 10-6 in the regular season and made it all the way to the NFC Championship. This season's sequel will delight even more now that Reggie Bush is a year older, head coach Sean Payton is a year smarter and the defense is a year meaner. On February 3, 2008, in Phoenix, the Saints will win the Super Bowl over New England and Hollywood (along with anyone with an ounce of empathy) will have the fantastic ending once thought impossible.
1. New England- Though QB Tom Brady is a proud papa, the Pats are confident he won't have to baby Randy Moss, Laurence Maroney and Donte Stallworth.
2. Baltimore- QB Steve McNair has two good years left. Willis McGahee has found his second wind in the backfield. The Ravens D is too much.
3. Indianapolis- Sure, Peyton Manning is a football genius, but he'd have to channel the late Bill Walsh to get the Super Bowl champ's depleted defense back to an elite level.
4. San Diego- The Chargers have the premier offensive (LaDainian Tomlinson) and defensive (Shawn Merriman) pieces. Can Norv Turner put the puzzle together though?
5. Denver- Two deaths give the heavy-hearted (but quietly lethal) Broncos even more to live up to.
6. Pittsburgh- 34 wins and a Super Bowl in a three-year span puts a lot of pressure on freshman coach Mike Tomlin. Healthy QB Ben Roethlisberger helps with the load.
7. Cincinnati- Chad Johnson's led the AFC in receiving yards four straight years. To make it five, Carson Palmer's gotta air it and T.J. Houshmandzadeh's gotta share it.
8. Miami- What's scarier- Jason Taylor, Zach Thomas and Joey Porter on D? Ted Ginn Jr. on punt returns? AARP recipient Trent Green behind center?
9. Jacksonville- The stingy Jags only gave up 88 points at home a year ago. Guess running backs Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew were doing all the scoring.
10. New York Jets- RB Thomas Jones tries to steady a Jets' stream that's been bumpy (10 wins in '04, four in '05, 10 in '06) for way too long.
11. Cleveland- Brady Quinn, whenever you become the full-time gun slinger here, know there will be plenty of weapons (Braylon Edwards, Jamal Lewis) waiting to fire.
12. Kansas City- Larry Johnson ain't get younger. Brodie Croyle shouldn't be throwin'. KC is a masterpiece of messiness.
13. Buffalo- If rookie Marshawn Lynch is as good as advertised over the preseason and J.P. Losman as solid as the second half to last season, the Bills could flirt with the postseason.
14. Tennessee- Mr. Madden Vince Young is a super talent. With so many other offensive holes (and Pacman Jones), we'd be super surprised if the Titans get near to .500.
15. Oakland- Savior JaMarcus Russell can't come sooner to a dying franchise whose only brightspot might be a born again Warren Sapp at left tackle.
16. Houston- Andre Johnson will catch everything new QB Matt Schaub throwsâ€”well, everything except flack for the Texans being the AFC South doormat again.
1. New Orleans- The people may vote Bush the Saints' best player, but the super Drew Brees, Deuce McAllister and Marques Colston are nobody's Dick Cheney.
2. St. Louis- In most fantasy football drafts, RB Steven Jackson was the No. 2 overall pick. It'll all make sense to doubters once they see him explode in this marvelous offense.
3. Chicago- The gritty Bears arguably have the NFC's most dull (Rex Grossman) and dynamic (returner/wide receiver Devin Hester) players on its roster.
4. Dallas- Tony Romo is a question mark. Terrell Owens is quirky. Coach Wade Phillips' exit will be quick if Dallas can't win 10.
5. Green Bay- Brett Favre has some gas left in his tank. WR Donald Driver and the A.J. Hawk-led D could drive to Sheboygan with all that's remaining in theirs.
6. Seattle- The NFC West is no longer a given. Then again, neither is a healthy season out of Shaun Alexander. New defensive end Patrick Kerney gives it his all every down.
7. Philadelphia- If Donovan McNabb plays 75% of the time, Brian Westbrook won't have 90% of the work and the Eagles will have a 100% chance of making the playoffs.
8. San Francisco- The fast-improving 49ers have the arm (Alex Smith), legs (Frank Gore) and hands (Darrell Jackson) to manuever their way into the crowded NFC playoff picture.
9. Carolina- QB Jake Delhomme threw six 4th quarter picks in '06. Call it bad nerves. Just don't call wide open WRs Steve Smith and rookie Dwayne Jarrett with any complaints.
10. Arizona- Though the Cardinals are likely still a year from soaring, Matt Leinart's gonna have a blast airing it out to the sure-handed Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald.
11. Washington- Clinton Portis is already a star. Santana Moss will be one after this year. QB Jason Campbell and rookie safety LaRon Landry won't wait long to join'em.
12. Tampa Bay- Jeff Garcia looked like the top free agent pick-up in the preseason. If all the pieces come together, the now-or-never Bucs will be the sleeper pick this season.
13. Detroit- The Lions are 6-42 on the road since '01. The amazing receiving tandem of Roy Williams and Calvin Johnson will certainly have a hand in fixing that.
14. New York Giants- Sometimey RB Brandon Jacobs fills now-retired Tiki Barber's big shoes. Eli Manning attempts the same with the gigantic imprint left by bro Peyton.
15. Atlanta- Pro bowlers Warrick Dunn, DeAngelo Hall and Keith Brooking fight to be the face of a troubled frachise that's taken a catastrophic hit this offseason.
16. Minnesota- Adrian "All Dayâ€ Peterson will have plenty of big games for the Vikes in â€˜07. Sadly, gifted QB Tarvaris "Will I get sacked 10 times today?â€ Jackson won't.