Another school year, another football season: A 2009 AFC preview

Starting in the AFC East, as usual, the road to the title goes through New England.  Tom Brady should be back to his old self and the leagues most dynamic offense will pickup a shot in the arm with the addition of Joey Galloway and Fred Taylor.  Trading Richard Seymour was a head scratcher, but sadly, I trust Bill Belichick in any personnel move.

Though it was fun hearing Channing Crowder and Rex Ryan engage in a my dad could beat up your dad argument in mini-camp, it was the most noteworthy offseason news of either team.

The Dolphins’ wildcat formation has run its course and it will be nowhere near as effective as last season.  Front man Chad Pennington can only take a mediocre team so far and I don’t see Miami eclipsing nine wins this season.

The Jets will not be as talented as everyone seems to think, but the addition of Bart Scott makes the defense better, but that doesn’t change the fact that Mark Sanchez is throwing to Jerrico Cotchery and Chancy Stuckey.  Rounding out the division is the Buffalo Bills.

A frequent laughing stock, the Bills seemed to be headed in the right direction with the signing of Terrell Owens.  However a disgusting preseason display on offense should strike the fear of God into any Bills fan.

Any team that fires their offensive coordinator in the preseason is automatically banned from positive comments in a preview article, even if they are my favorite squad.  Trent Edwards and Mark Sanchez will lead their teams to the bottom half of the league in every offensive category and at best a .500 season.

Shifting the focus to the AFC North there are only two teams worth talking about.  The defending champion Steelers, are the model organization in the NFL.  They are well coached and have the best defense in the NFL.  There is no reason that they can’t reach the Super Bowl yet again.  Virtually the same team is back from last year and that is bad news for everybody else.

Baltimore is another well-coached team that plays great defense.  Joe Flacco should continue to improve and the Ravens smash mouth running game will control the ball.  The big question on defense is Bart Scott’s departure.

Cleveland’s quarterback carousel spells bad news for Browns fans.  Eric Mangini is a step up from Romeo Crennel, of course, so is any warm body.  If Braylon Edwards gets rid of those frying pans he calls hands, the offense could be somewhat productive.

The Bengals will get leading man Carson Palmer back this year which should help last years anemic offense.  Rey Maualuga will be a good sparkplug for an improving defense.  If the season doesn’t workout for the Bengals could always try their luck in the prison league from the Longest Yard, they certainly have the rap sheet for it (Chris Henry, Cedric Benson, Tank Johnson and others).
Two words for anybody who thinks Marvin Lewis is a good coach, Child Please!

The AFC South is another two team battle.  Defending division champion Tennessee suffered the biggest blow of any team this offseason, losing perennial all pro and occasional face stomper Albert Haynesworth.  While it is a huge loss there shouldn’t be too much concern in Nashville as they defense is still among the best in the NFL.

Chris Johnson and Lendale White will provide enough offense for the Titans to contend again.

With Peyton Manning at the helm Indianapolis is in every game they play in.  The biggest challenge for the Colts will be overcoming the departure of Tony Dungy.

If Bob Sanders can stay healthy the defense should be decent enough to keep the Colts in contention for a divisional title.  Jacksonville is an interesting team to watch.  They have a decent amount of talent on both sides of the ball but they seem to be a few players short of a playoff push.

David Garrard was not the game manager of two years ago and the defense is coming off a lackluster campaign.  If Derrick Harvey and the rest of the Jags defense don’t get more pressure on the quarterback this season head coach Jack Del Rio better save some of those sideline suits for job interviews as he is definitely on the hot seat.

Houston is another interesting team this season, if Matt Schaub can stay off the sidelines for a change the offense will be tough to stop.  However, a defense that has trouble getting off the field will put a lot of pressure on Schaub and Steve Slaton to put up lots of points.
If San Diego doesn’t win the AFC West each player on the team should be arrested.

The Chargers are far superior to any team in this putrid division.
When Shawne Merriman isn’t being accused of slapping around Tila Tequila or planning his next awful hairstyle, he is one of the most feared pass rushers in the game.  I despise Philip Rivers but a tip of the cap is warranted to the NFL’s best passer rating.
Between Rivers, LT and scat back Darren Sproles the offense is nasty.  Josh Mcdaniels has successfully made Denver worse than last year.

It takes quite a man to piss off the two best players on the team but this Belichick disciple managed to do so.  Kyle Orton, will take over for Jay Cutler and he should lead Denver to a top ten draft pick.
The Kansas City Chiefs had a very good offseason picking up Matt Cassel but the same rule applies as it did from Buffalo, if you fire your O-coordinator you get no kind words.

This team is a year or two away.  It pains me to waste my energy on Oakland.
Darius Heyward-Bey isn’t bad but he’s not a top ten draft pick, only Al Davis could pull that one off with a straight face.

Luckily for the Raiders they will have another crack at a top flight draft pick, however their only hope at success hinges on Al Davis passing away, so Raider Nation get used to the basement.