Darren McFadden and the Raiders could surprise some people this season.
While the outcome in preseason games is meaningless outside the gambling world, there is something we can take from watching these games closely. There is little game-planning for these matchups but once you see a team on the field, it may change some of the perceptions you had when just looking at them on paper. Here are some of the things I've learned this preseason:
--The Eagles simply don't have enough playmakers on offense to compete with the Cowboys and Giants. I really liked Philly coming into this season because I think they will have a strong defense as always and McNabb is healthy. However, watching those same shoemaker receivers trying to get open this preseason makes me believe they are going to have trouble winning such a tough division. Now that Kevin Curtis is out for an extended period of time, the Eagles are down to the likes of Jason Avant, Hank Baskett and Greg Lewis. I'm sorry, that's just not good enough. If Brian Westbrook gets hurt, this team is toast.
--While my original instincts may have been off on the Eagles, they were right on the money with the Bears. They stink. Don't let last night's 37-30 score fool you. The 49ers dominated that game. The Niners outgained the Bears in total yards 425-313 and that includes a 51-yard TD pass by Chicago on the final play of the game. San Fran also netted 25 first downs to the Bears' 14. I don't see anything on this Bears team that offers much hope. I know Kyle Orton looked good against the 49ers but if this team wins seven games, Lovie Smith should be named Coach of the Year in my opinion.
--Speaking of the 49ers, I think both teams in the Bay Area could surprise this year. I'm not saying that the 49ers and Raiders are going to meet in the Super Bowl but they could end up being better than people think. I like the defensive fronts and running game for each of those teams. Granted, there is a huge question mark at quarterback in both situations, especially San Fran, but overall, I like what I'm seeing from these two teams and I think they are headed in the right direction. There could be some nice spots to take the 49ers and Raiders as underdogs this season.
--The Browns don't impress me very much. When I watch that team they commit my cardinal sin in sports. They make me ask, "Where's the talent on this team?" Don't get me wrong, Cleveland has some good players but they aren't consistently good across the board in my opinion, especially on defense. The Browns traded away starting CB Leigh Bodden and I see their secondary and receivers - outside of Braylon Edwards - being very weak this year. I like Romeo Crennel and I'm rooting for him to succeed but this Browns team has a lot of question marks that still need to be answered.
So those are some of the things I've learned this preseason. What are some of the things you've noticed while watching preseason games? Let me know what you think.
Does anybody else like the Bucs to repeat as division champs this year. They seem to have decent depth everywhere on offense, and I don't see where the defense would take a big step back this year.
The Saints will have a Say in who wins the NFC South. That OFFENSE will be VERY Good. They have to FIND a Cornerback....Jason David's a STIFF!
Cleveland Browns will be moneyburners this year. Last year's 10-6 record was a product of an incredibly easy schedule. Their own division is by far one of the weakest in the league, add to that wins over Miami (1-15), the Jets (4-12), St Louis (3-13) and San Fran (5-11) and you can see their 10-6 record was not very impressive. This year's schedule exchanges the horrible NFC West for the very tough NFC East. Instead of the 49ers, Rams, Cards and Seahawks, they get the Giants, Redskins, Cowboys and Eagles. Throw in a game against Indy, at Jacksonville and at Buffalo on a Monday Night (a huge revenge game for the Bills) and they got their hands full. Perception coming in this season has them as playoff contenders, I see them as a .500 team at best. They had the 30th ranked D last year against a creampuff schedule. This year finishing 30th in yards allowed will probably be a lofty goal.
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I agree sportsfan. I think Cutler is going to have a huge year for the Broncos.
I hope the showing against the Cowboys is an indication that both the Broncos lines will improve this year. I know it's preseason but the physical play of the Cowboys (Jax) are just the kind of teams that give Denver fits. I also hope they continue to let Cutler throw downfield as I think he is due for a nice year.