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Lenstradamus's NFL Preview

Okay, by the time most of you read this, the first "official" week of the NFL season will begin.  Madden NFL 2007 will have been a quasi-collector's item if for no other reason, it'll be the last game in which you figure to be able to scramble at will with Vick (because his arm won't let you do much of the throwing stuff) or play with Pacman Jones (who just MIGHT stick with the wrestling thing if ole Goodell keeps him iced).  Normally, I'd do a division by division breakdown leading to playoff picks and SB champ, but here's why I'm not doing it this year.

1) The AFC South basically breaks down like this.  Indianapolis...and everyone else.  J-Ville's got to be the one franchise that sorta reminds you like that family member with all the potential in the world but just can't put all of it together.  You'd have thought that after Cough-lin was ejected, this team
would've hit their stride...but they haven't.  Now, their gutsiest QB since Brunell's been handed his walking papers and now they're no worse than Houston. As for Tennessee, no.  Vince is Vince, we get it and if you haven't got it since the 2005 Rose Bowl then BEAT IT.  But even Vince had help at Texas and he's got next to none this year, on top of the fact he's on the cover of Madden which hasn't done a great deal for the people before him.  (Vick's the first to ever be booted by the league for a year.  Let's hope it stops with him.)
2) The AFC West is essentially a two team race that's not really worth trying to call.  And whether or not it's legitimately a race or just a "race that turned into a full out mauling" will depend on how quickly Cutler matures and whether or not Norv Turner is really as bad as we think or if he just needed some talent to coach up.  Hell with that.  I'm saying this RIGHT NOW about Norv Turner. 

Norv, you can't fuck this up.  It's impossible even on Madden 07 to sabotage the Super Chargers who if it weren't for the Pats getting Moss and pretty much a new receiving corps that can catch passes on 3rd down, would be "Super" this season.  Marty got 14 wins out of this team and trust me, nobody's asking you to have the geezers left from the 1972 'Fins team to keep the champagne on ice
(Lord knows it's the only time anyone will ever toast the 'Fins in the near or immediate future)... we're just asking that you not submarine these guys to Croak-land and Washington depths.  If you can't get this team the division and at least ONE playoff win, turn in your clipboard and headset.  Join Lloyd Carr and Tom Coughlin in the unemployment line.

Ahem. That aside, as much as I love Herman Edwards, he's a fool for leaving NY. KC's pretty much done and I think the only thing that makes them a little better than Oakland is Larry Johnson who is a lot like that sleek sports car with 100,000 miles on it. Yeah, it's great to look at and is real fast when
the pedal's pressed down...but do you really expect it to go cross country and back without breaking down? No.
3) I'm a Jets fan, but I'm conceding the AFC East to the Pats. The worst thing to happen to the Jets this offseason was Croakland handing the Pats Tom's 4th ring and Moss. Drafting Revis was great, but to quote a scouting report from Madden...I wouldn't line him up against Moss.
4) The NFC East is a joke. Well, the entire conference is and simply put, let's face it. They're the equivalent of the NBA's JV Conference. There's not one single division in the conference where you look and say, "gee, I wonder who's going to win that division" like you can or would the AFC North (the best division in football pound for pound, sans the Clowns).

- Take the NFC East for instance. This division is Drama Central from top to bottom. Washington's got a coach that's too proud to admit the game's long since passed him by. Dallas has a WR that is a walking time bomb just waiting to blow for the final time, not to mention a QB that has Cowboy Nation
wondering if he's the second coming of Troy Aikman or Wade Wilson. Philly's got a head coach who has to wonder if his kids are going to be on America's Most Wanted before dad has to get ready for a game and a QB who...well, has a heart that's pumping Kool-Aid at the rate of a jackhammer on a construction site. QB's aren't supposed to be as thin skinned as Donovan is and if you're an Eagles fan, you know this to be true. You know that T.O. was right about his post-Super Bowl assessment of McCrap accurate and his reaction to his team's drafting of Kevin Kolb...sad. Oh, don't even get me started on the All-Drama Team known as the New York Drama Queens. Between the coach who's two
years past his welcome, the young QB who MUST step up this year or start seeking another place to ply his craft, the over the hill, one foot in the retirement home defensive end that's more of a diva than Lindsey, Paris and Nicole combined...shall I go on?
- The NFC North is...well, as is with most divisions, someone's got to win it.

- The NFC West is Seattle's to lose, because I don't trust the other three teams to anything other than crank out really good fantasy players.

So let's narrow this down shall we? First, the Final Four. In the AFC, I see 3, Indy, New England and San Diego. In the end, we get a rematch of last year's... Divisional Round game. HA!!! I see the Bolts punching out Indy and New England is well...New England. By November, I'm predicting that Brady and Moss will be in sync and torching more secondaries than the law will allow. Still, I have faith in the Chargers to turn this right. They'll upend the reigning champs, but the second verse with their budding rivalry with the Pats will have a similar ending as the first...only it won't be in San Diego. It'll be Foxboro. And Moss and Brady will torch the Bolts. As for the NFC, good grief. This is akin to being at a bar during last call and trying to find the worst of the worst to choose from. Ugh. Chicago's going to be there, I don't know about N.O., I really don't. I'm thinking this whole 'feel good team' bit has a shelf life of...a year. They're not sneaking up on people the way they did a year ago and while they're afforded the luxury of playing in the South...if you can remove Bush and McAllister from the equation, they're done. Simple as that. I think Seattle will be back. I'm thinking they've got enough on both sides of the ball and aside from their small meltdown against Chicago a year ago, there's no reason to think they wouldn't have been opposite of Indy in the Super Bowl. So ultimately, I'm going Seattle and New England. Rex has proven he's got that 'Tin Man' factor about him in that the bigger the game, the worse he's guaranteed to do for your team. You don't want a Tin Man in your QB, especially in late January. On top of that, I think they're going to seriously miss Thomas Jones in that rushing game. So it'll be the Hawks and Pats and well, let's keep this basic. The Pats haven't lost a Super Bowl in the Belichick/Brady era. They won't this year either. Yeah, this is a chalk pick but guess what? There's not another team out there that I like more than these guys.

- Indy's good, but I still believe that New England lost last year's AFC title game more than Indy won it. On top of that, it remains to be seen how Peyton's going to handle being chased rather than chasing.
- The Bolts will rue firing Marty, letting most of their staff walk with him and not addressing their secondary. This will get exposed as the year goes along.
- Baltimore's a serious sleeper to me. They've still got the best defense that nobody's talking about, McNair's still got some get up and go in him and Whatcha Runnin' On Willis is a huge upgrade over Jamal Lewis.
- New Orleans was good for what it had a year ago. Weak schedule, emotional high that they didn't come off of until that cold, hard reality hit them in Chicago in January. Along with Urlacher and company.

So that's it.
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