We just recently released our NFL Power Rankings. It's an average of the major entities rankings. But who should know NFL teams better than the local reporters that cover them? Here's a look at what the local papers are saying about each team in the AFC, with the season beginning today. Some of these columnists are more enthusiastic than the national media and some are expecting doom and gloom for their hometown franchise. (Check back later today for the take on the NFC).
Bob DiCesare of the Buffalo News:
The offensive coordinator one day, the starting left tackle a few days hence. What do you think? Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback for the opener? Ralph Wilson drawing up plays on suite napkins? Where, oh where, does it end?Well, that's one way to start off the season. Calling for the paper bags before the first snap. Get your popcorn ready Buffalo!
Somewhere between 4-12 and 0-16, I'd gather.
Yes, by all means get your popcorn ready. The paper bag will come in handy
Greg Cote of the Miami Herald:
You're OK if Ted Ginn is your No. 3 guy or maybe No. 2, not the hub of your passing game. Marshall would make the Dolphins offense scarier. Much, and immediately.Cote thinks the combustible WR Brandon Marshall is worth trading for in order to get the Fins offense over the hump. Terrell Owens, Randy Moss, AND Marshall in the same division? This just in - the Jets are looking into Chad Ochocinco.
New England Patriots
Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald:
The shock still hasn’t worn off three days later. Even at age 29, the five-time Pro Bowl defensive end arguably was one of the team’s two best defensive players.Did the Patriots drastically hurt their chances at a Super Bowl this year by trading Richard Seymour for a future first-round pick? Maybe, but they got a steal from the Raiders who get a player that doesn't want to be in Oakland and will be a free agent after this year.
How can they be a better team without him? Especially this year. It sure doesn’t look like it’s possible. Not on paper. Not right now. Not in the present. Not against the Bills come Monday night.
New York Jets
Mark Cannizzaro of the New York Post:
10-6 - The Jets will finish second in the AFC East to New England, and earn a wild-card playoff berth.Looks like Mark is thinking lightning will strike for a third time in two years. Rookie QB Mark Sanchez will lead his team to the playoffs just like Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco did last year.
From Woody Paige of the Denver Post:
McDaniels said he's never been part of a losing football team since he began playing football in the seventh grade.Predicting the worst season in franchise history can't make Woody Paige a popular man in Denver.
There's always a first time, Josh.
The Broncos, who open their 50th season on Sept. 13, have never lost 12 games in one.
There's always a first time, Denver.
This is a very average football team with a very difficult schedule.
Wait 'til next year.
Kansas City Chiefs
Jason Whitlock of the Kansas City Star:
We have no earthly idea whether Cassel is any good. He’s done nothing in the preseason to distinguish himself. Well, actually, because of the knee injury he suffered last week, Cassel has done nothing.So you're saying that 6-year, $63 million contract was a bad idea?
Gwen Knapp of the San Francisco Chronicle:
Playing well would increase the odds of being hit with the franchise tag. Going at half-speed, a la Randy Moss in 2006, would devalue him on the open market. Either way, he'd be playing on a team that will have to overachieve to finish 6-10.She's referring of course to Richard Seymour. You know your team's bad when the hometown columnist has sympathy for the player that was traded to the team they cover.
San Diego Chargers
Tim Sullivan of the San Diego Union-Tribune:
Given the chaotic state of the AFC West, in fact, the Bolts are likely the largest divisional lock in the league.Nothing more satisfying than winning by default.
Mike Preston of the Baltimore Sun:
The Ravens unveiled their team game plan for 2009, and they won't go far from the script if the team is to be successful.The Ravens have basically been the same team for like 15 years now. They'll be a run-first team with a decent pass game and their defense will always keep them in games. It doesn't seem like they've improved enough to make the jump to Super Bowl contender.
It's an upgrade over last season, but is it enough to get them back to the AFC championship game? We'll see.
Joe Reedy of Cincinnati Enquirer:
As the Bengals prepare to open the season Sunday against Denver, Palmer faces the biggest challenges of his seven-year career.Alright, so not much opinion in that passage but Palmer is the biggest question mark for the Bengals this year. Can he move past the injuries and return to Pro Bowl form? If not, the Bengals will be battling with the Browns for last place in the division.
He must prove to fans and critics that he is one of the league’s elite quarterbacks while trying to get his team back to the postseason for the first time since 2005.
Bud Shaw from the Cleveland Plain Dealer:
If Mangini doesn't win, Lerner should keep his word on another front and sell the team.That's a big bet you got there. Win or sell the team. You think the Raiders can get in on that action?
Ron Cook of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
I like the Steelers' chances. I like 'em a lot more than I did after they won in the '05 season. It's more than just the fact that Ben Roethlisberger isn't coming off a serious motorcycle accident this time. There isn't any sense of complacency under Mike Tomlin like there was under Bill Cowher, who knew '06 was going to be his final year as Steelers coach.Has Tomlin ALREADY replaced Cowher as the most beloved Steelers' coach of all-time? If so, it can only mean one thing: It's time to replace Steely McBeam.
Richard Justice of the Houston Chronicle:
Sports Illustrated is picking the Texans to win the AFC South. So is Playboy, and if that's not good enough for you, Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News is picking our guys as well.Hasn't this happened the past three seasons? The Texans are always the sleeper pick and they always disappoint. I'll believe a division title when I see it.
And you'd been such a pessimist these last few weeks. Silly you. Now you sit up straight and walk with your head held high. These Texans are about to make you proud.
Bob Kravitz of the Indianapolis Star:
In this very spot one year ago, someone claiming to be me wrote with great certitude that the Indianapolis Colts would not -- I think the unfortunate words "cut and paste'' were used during the making of the point -- would not win 12 games for the sixth straight season… So it is with a bit of trepidation, and a growing lack of self-confidence, that I tell you this: Clip and save; the Colts are going 12-4.12 wins for the Colts? Sounds about right since that's what they get every year.
Gene Frenette of the Florida Times-Union:
This is a crossroads year in many respects for this franchise. Ticket sales are stagnant. Expectations have been downgraded. Nobody knows what will evolve from general manager Gene Smith reshaping this team in his image.It's a shame this franchise has no fan support. Even if the Jags are winning, expect blackouts in Jacksonville.
Jim Wyatt of the Tennessean:
Whether the Haynesworth questions continue depends largely on what happens tonight in Pittsburgh. A good start will make them start to fade.The Titans won't sneak up on anyone this year - though they have a better chance of doing that literally without Haynesworth. How will they cope with the loss of the big man? Their defense needs to be top 10 to make up for a lack of offensive firepower.