2004 NFL PREVIEW
For the Eagles anything less then a trip to Jacksonville on February 6th will be unacceptable as they now have added a legit receiver in Terrell Owens, there should be nothing standing in the way for the Eagles who on their 4th down try finally make it into the Super Bowl endzone.
If you want to play the Giants this year play them early as this team will be better in December then they are in September, as Eli Manning eventually takes over at QB. However in the end they will have a tough time avoiding 10 losses, but with a strong finish good things are ahead in 2005.
A return to the glory days is what the Redskins are hoping for so they have turned to Joe Gibbs their coach from the glory days. They won't quite make it back to the Super Bowl this year but with the addition of Clinton Portis they should be a strong playoff contender.
With Larry Fitzgerald the Cardinals should have one of the best young receiving cores in the league if Aquan Boldin returns from injury next year. The Cardinals will once again struggle but with new Coach Dennis Green by season's end the arrow will be pointing up.
At Quarterback they are old with 41-year old Vinny Testaverde, at Running back they are old with Eddie George who has a battering that makes him feel like a 41 year old, unless the Cowboys think they can win now they are heading in the wrong direction with an 8-8 team.
Last year Brett Favre and Ahman Green got the Packers into the playoff all by themselves, as the Packers defense was turned into Swiss cheese. The Packers did not do anything to improve their defense and Favre is now a year older, as the Packers fall just short of the playoffs.
In year two of Steve Marriucci, expect big things for the Lions as they will be the surprise team in the NFC winning the Northern Division as Joey Harrington has a break out All-Pro season with a solid receiving core led by 2nd year Charles Rogers and Free Agent singee Tai Streets.
After a 6-0 start the Vikings won just 3 of their last 10 games missing the playoffs, along the way many weaknesses were exposed in their defense and their running game, none of these weaknesses were addressed in the off season, so in an improved division the Vikings will fall short again.
Improved on defense the Bears will have a tough time scoring with 2nd year starter Rex Grossman, as they have no offensive weapons to speak of at Running Back and Wide Receiver. However, if their offense avoids too many mistakes their defense may win a game or two for them.
Expect the heat on Coach Mike Martz to be intense as the Rams will struggle all season and will never be a factor in the playoff race, as QB Marc Bulger struggles with the starting job, while Marshall Faulk continues to break down, while on defense they will sorely miss Grant Wistrom.
The Saints are a big mystery in the NFL some weeks they look like a contender other a pretender. This year they will look more like the latter in a tough division with a tough schedule all of which could and will spell doom for Jim Haslett at the end of the season.
Coming off injury and learning the West Coast Offense it could be a year of struggles for QB Michael Vick. However his talent and play making abillity alone shoudl be enough to have the Falcons in contention all season, as the faster he learns the new offense the more dangerous he will be.
Coming off a surprise trip to the Super Bowl the Panthers have a giant bull's eye on their back, expect them to struggle with the added pressure as they will get off to a slow start. However they should still be able to slip back into the playoffs where they will be dangerous once again.
Just 2 years ago the 49ers appeared to be in the right direction as they recaptured the West. However they decided to completely scrap the team and start from scratch what they are left with is expansion level talent, as fans to see a 49ers win may have to watch old tapes from the glory years.
Last year Jamal Lewis rushed for 2000 yards and was the entire Ravens offense With Lewis set to go on trial for drug trafficking in November the Ravens could be in serious trouble if the trial forces him to miss any action, as they still don't have a legitimate starting QB.
Perhaps no team had a worse off season the Dolphins with the sudden retirement of star RB Ricky Williams and the loss of injury to WR David Boston who was acquired to be the top receiver. However, the worse news is that Dave Wannstedt is still coach.
After taking their hits with injury and free agency losses in 2003 the Jets will be looking to rebound. However the road up is longer then the road down and if they can get to 8-8 it will be considered an accomplishment as Chad Pennington looks to regain his 2002 form.
The Patriots are just as strong as they were last year when they won the Super Bowl; in fact they may be stronger with the addition of RB Corey Dillion. However the bull's eye that comes with winning the Super Bowl is a heavy burden and by season's end their lack of depth will be their down fall.
Expect good things for Willis McGahee as he takes over as the Bills starting RB. However along the way it will be a struggle as Travis Henry will not be happy about losing his job, while QB Drew Bledsoe struggles again in a year of transition for the Bills.
The loss of Eddie George won't be as big as the loss of Jevon Kearse as the Titans defense could be vulnerable. However with Co-MVP Steve McNair still at Quarterback the Titans should still be able to slide into the playoffs despite playing in a tough division.
Last year Peyton Manning took a major step forward winning the Co-MVP, while leading the Colts to the AFC Championship Game. This year he takes the next step as the Colts, are primed and ready for a Super Bowl run, with the league's top offense.
Last year the Jaguars finished the season strong as rookie QB Byron Leftwich started to get comfortable with the NFL game, this year with a solid defense and Leftwich in year two the Jaguars will surprise many by sneaking into the playoffs.
It will be a year of changes for the Steelers as the bus Jerome Bettis could be making his last trip, while rookie QB Ben Rothlisberger waits for his chance which will come by the end of the season, as the Steelers will be looking toward the future in a down year.
Every few years an athlete comes a long and changes his position, Rookie TE Kellen Winslow II is such a person, with big play ability and toughness Browns fans will be witness to the blossoming of the TE position as the Browns capture the weak Northern Division.
Turning the starting QB reigns over to 2003 number 1 pick Carson Palmer will be good in the long run for the Bengals. However in 2004 he will suffer growing pains that just about every QB goes through as the Bengals will take a step backward.
The Broncos will sorely miss RB Clinton Portis, as this time the Broncos cant find anyone to make up for the yards he brought to the offense, while QB Jake Plummer struggles, without a running game, as fans begin to turn the heat on Coach Mike Shanahan.
After going 4-12 the Raiders decided to retool adding Warren Sapp. However Sapp is just more of what the Raiders don't need an All-Pro past his prime as age continues to be a factor while the Raiders struggle to avoid last place.
This could be the year football fans in the Pacific Northwest have been waiting for along time as the Seahawks are a legitimate Super Bowl contender. Don't be surprised if the Seahawks in Jacksonville as they will win the West and get to the NFC Championship Game.
LaDainian Tomlinson must feel like the loneliest man in the NFL as he is only bright spot on an otherwise awful team. On a contender he would be an MVP candidate. However without much talent around him nobody will notice as he wins the NFL rushing title.
Bringing back one time Coach Gunther Cunningham as Defensive Coordinator should be able to help the Chiefs whose porous defense became their undoing last year after an 8-0 start. Look for them to be just as strong as the reach the AFC Championship Game.
After a disappointing 7-9 season coming off their Super Bowl Championship the Bucs are hungry to bounce back, despite losing John Lynch and Warren Sapp the defense is just as strong, expect the offense to be better as Jon Gruden shapes the team in his image as the Bucs win the South.
By year three most had hoped the Texans would be ready to contend. However, without a good running game, and without many stars around him it will still be tough for QB David Carr, as the Texans still can't avoid 10 losses, while fans being to get impatient.
Coach of the Year
Defensive Rookie of the Year
Offensive Rookie of the Year
Defensive Player of the Year
Offensive Player of the Year
Kellen Winslow II
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
San Diego Chargers
Bill Cowher-Pittsburgh Steelers
Dennis Erickson-San Francisco 49ers
Jim Haslett-New Orleans Saints
Marty Schottenheimer-San Deigo Chargers
Mike Tice-Minnesota Vikings
Dave Wanstedt-Miami Dolphins
Coaches who will be looking for work after the season
Predictions Made: September 5, 2004