THE OFFICIAL RUTHLESS 2007 AFC PREVIEW

AFC_4712

AFC East – Home of Your Probable Super Bowl Champion

New England Patriots (13-3)

While Bill Belichick was distracted with fucking his buddy’s wife, The Pats barely squeaked by San Diego. All day long the Chargers kicked the shit out of New England, outmuscling them on both sides of the ball and intimidating their thin receiving corps into dropping sure catches. New England had their asses handed to them all day and were lucky to even be playing in Indy. That much was evident the following week when they gave up a 21-point lead to the Colts and saw their receivers drop perfectly delivered passes in bunches. Belichick took his cock out of his mistress’s mouth, processed the colossal blunder of letting Deion Branch go, and replaced the whole lot of butterfingered pussies and strengthen the one serious weakness this club had on paper. And he did it by stacking the position with fucking Randy Moss (at a $6-million-plus-per-year pay cut), Dante Stallworth, Wes Walker, and Kelley Washington giving them possibly the deepest receiving corps in the league. And that’s regardless of the their tendency to pull hamstrings, go on the rag, or somehow get busted for dope possession. Bank it, you won’t hear a peep out of Randy Moss this year, simply because Belichick would cut his balls off and feed them to a bull mastiff without a second thought. With the shedding of Corey Dillon and his declining production the running game goes to the very capable Lawrence Maroney. Just ink him in for 1,500 yards. Combine that with Tom Brady’s almost supernatural precision and the Pats are poised to have the most effective offense in the NFL. However, with all the big press going to whether or not Moss can handle playing for the Pats, the signing of Adalius Thomas is in fact the most important pickup the Pats could have made. With the linebacker slots aging fast (and under the radar) bringing this monster in guarantees that Roosevelt Colvin can focus on outside blitzes while Tedy Bruschi can play defensive quarterback and fill the gaps in the middle against the run. Lock these fuckers in for 13 wins, 12 minimum.

New York Jets (9-7)

The Jets are the hot, schizo, bipolar girl you want to date, fuck, and drink with, but you sure as shit won’t commit to her. They are radically inconsistent (losing to Jacksonville by 41, beating Green Bay by 28, blowing a late-fourth-quarter lead to the Colts, and losing to Cleveland) and dependent on enough “ifs” to throw their whole season into a depressing tailspin if any one of them blows up. The Jets win 10 or 11 games if Chad Pennington is kept upright and healthy, if Thomas Jones provides them with a running game, if D’Bricksashaw Furgeson keeps performing like he’s for real, and if the defense stops giving up big plays and becomes more physical while David Harris and Darrelle Revis can deliver as rookies. You just need to see Thomas Jones injure his calf in a preseason workout to remind you that without him the Jets are maybe a seven-win team. Pennington’s got a commanding presence in the huddle, and he just wins, but he’s one good hit from having his career ended. If he goes down one more time, it will be Kellen Clemens’ team. They may be able to pull of an upset against the Patriots if they get a break or two, but realistically they do not have enough on defense to keep other teams in check during crunch time.If Jones is on all cylinders watch out if you’re the Giants, Detroit, or Kansas City, because Eric Mangini’s gameplans will fucking steamroll you. While the Jets should win 11 they are a full class behind the Patriots, Colts and Ravens, so don’t expect them to be booking tickets beyond the divisional playoffs if they can even get that far.

Buffalo Bills (7-9)

Enjoy J.P. Losman’s coming of age. Word out of Buffalo’s camp is that he’s grown a pair and taken charge in the huddle, making the passing game a real force. However, relish Marshawn Lynch. If he’s used properly he could be worth about 2,000 total yards and 15 touchdowns. However, their defense is closer to a collander than a brick wall. Expect the Bills to shit the bed consistently — even though they may put up 24 points a game — because their defense will give up 30. You don’t just kiss your three best defenders (Takeo Spikes, London Fletcher and Nate Clements) goodbye and replace them with two no-names and a rookie coming off major knee surgery and expect to win 10 games in possibly the most talented division in football. Congratulations, Dick Jauron, you’re seriously fucked. We’ll be holding a place for you on the unemployment line, Yalie.

Miami Dolphins (5-11)

And talk about fucked. First you lose Ricky Williams when he decides he’d rather learn Ayurveda and smoke dope in the Sierra Nevadas. Then after showing a smidgen of improvement, your ballyhooed cocksucker of a head coach mentally bails out at midseason on you, heading for greener pastures in Alabama after saying he was staying put. Tack on to that the utter failure of Daunte Culpepper and you have one of the biggest wastes of a great defense since the Rams and Vikings of the 1970s. Now with that fanatstic defense on the downward spiral, Williams trying out for the Saskatchewan Roughriders or some such shit, and Trent Green starting at quarterback while recovering from post-concussion syndrome, the Dolphins are poised to be the shittiest team this side of Oakland. Zach Thomas and Jason Taylor deserve better, but there is no way this team even smells the playoffs before other teams tear off Green’s jockstrap and shove it in his mouth.

AFC North

Baltimore Ravens (12-4)

Brian Billick has been hailed as an offensive genius for years. The only problem is that he’s never proven it outside of one season as Minnesota’s offensive coordinator. Looking like a dumpy Pat Boone in a leather daddy outfit, he rolls around spewing horseshit about scoring points, but the fact of the matter is that unless he just shuts the fuck up and hires a young, innovative offensive coordinator, his club will never score when it counts. They should have demolished Indy last year, but because Billick is the best coach at squelching an offense this side of Marty Schottenheimer, the Ravens shit the bed in their own stadium with inclement weather and Bart Scott, Adlius Thomas and Ray Lewis all up in Rod Flanders’ shit. Willis McGahee is a serious upgrade at running back and you’re not going to see him just plow into a pile pretending he can move it with sheer will a-la Jamal Lewis. Running behind a seriously motivated offensive line is going to give him a legitimate shot at 1,500 yards and Steve McNair one more shot at a Super Bowl. If McNair had McGahee at running back instead of Lewis and his bum knees, he might have been able to pummel Indy’s decidedly mediocre defense into submission. Yes, the road to Arizona goes through New England and San Diego, but if Brian Billick can get his shit together on offense and get McGahee and McNair into a rhythm, this team can beat the shit out of anyone using simple brute force. This is truly the most physical team in the NFL and fully capable of running the table in the playoffs if healthy. And if Billick dies before they play New England.

Pittsburgh Steelers (10-6)

Oh, fuck Bill Cowher. The Steelers don’t need him to win games and after the way he let the season implode last year he was becoming the NFL’s version of Bobby Bowden and living off his reputation. Just watching the sidelines you could see his fire was gone and he needed a break. If he’s smart, he’ll stay out of football forever lest he become another George Seifert. What they need is someone with a fresh approach and they got him in Mike Tomlin. However, he’s already tinkering with the defense and while the Steelers will stick to the 3-4, you can expect Tomlin to make a shift to the 4-3 base unless he heeds this advice: Let Dick LeBeau run the defense, give him the players he needs, and stay the fuck out of the way. The defense is fine. Ben Roethelisberger is also healthy again both physically and mentally, so he won’t have to worry about having either his jaw wired shut or his guts explode on him. That alone should be worth nine wins, but the Steelers won’t go above 11, because their offensive line is a weak point that could get Roethelisberger killed unless they gel quickly, though that is highly doubtful.

Cincinnati Bengals (9-7)

All offense but no defense equals 10 wins at best, give or take a felony or two. Yeah, you can talk about the prison sentences, felony convictions, and rap sheets but the Bengals have Mr. Sexy Cinco Ocho stealing headlines and scoring touchdowns without failed suicide attempts. That should count for something. They also have Carson Palmer at full strength throwing the best deep balls in the game. Marvin Lewis must go to bed at night wondering who is gonna busted first, another crack-addled player waving a gun around naked in an intersection, or his defense’s ass because it couldn’t stop the Polish army. Book them for a lot of points, both scored and given up, along with a loss in the wild card round if they can even get that far.

Cleveland Browns (3-13)

It’s almost Brady Quinn time, bitches. By midseason we’ll get to see whether or not he’s for real or just another scrub able to make third-stringers look bad in preseason games. This team is just gruesome on paper, but they at least have some building blocks in place after pissing away high first-round picks for years. Besides Quinn, there is offensive tackle Joe Thomas dislocating the shoulders of defensive ends, Kamerion Wimbley and Antwan Peek beating the mortal shit out of running backs at linebacker, and Leigh Bodden and Eric Wright developing into shutdown corners. Unfortunately, they have Jamal Lewis with one foot in the grave at running back, Braylon Edwards and his limp dick at receiver, and Kellen Winslow just one more injury away from having to move into his dad’s guest house. Don’t be shocked if Romeo Crennel is the first coach to get fired this year.

AFC South

Indianapolis Colts (12-4)

Peyton got his ring, so everyone can stop with the Marino comparisons because he is now officially better than Dan in every way imaginable and will be breaking Marino’s records very, very soon. Now, if Flanders can pull another ring or two out of his ass, he can make a case for greatest ever. Anyways, they’ll get 12 wins, but that defense sucks cock. There’s a cute anecdote about Dungy writing the names of all the guys the Colts lost before last season on a chalkboard and then telling his team they won a Super Bowl anyway. That’s quaint, but when you lose the same amount of players the following year as well, including both of your starting corners, left tackle, and middle linebacker, you are in serious trouble. Yes, their defense stepped up in the playoffs when it counted and that should be complimented, but breaking in a new group at over a third of your slots is going to be especially difficult in an already brutal schedule. Also, can Joseph Addai handle 25-30 touches a game like Edge did? Also, is he the back you go to when you need first downs in the fourth quarter? Last year the Colts used a two-back system to perfection, and in crunch time against the Ravens handed the ball to Dominic Rhodes — not Addai — because they needed to grind out tough yardage and eat the clock. That will be Addai’s toughest challenge. If he can handle the banging between the tackles and avoid nagging injuries, ink him in for 1,400 yards and a big shit sandwich for me for saying he would be dogshit in the league.

Jacksonville Jaguars (8-8)

Jack Del Rio finally handed the Jaguars over to David Garrard; now he needs to trade Fred Taylor and let Maurice Jones-Drew handle the bulk of the running game. On the surface, the release of Byron Leftwich can be read as a dead reckoning and glaring admission that Leftwich was the wrong man for the job. Maybe, but Leftwich has been injured pretty much his entire career, so it was time for the Jags to cut bait and let him restart his career before he gets too old. Regardless, the transition will not be easy, though it should give the Jags a solid foundation to build on for next year. While they push through some growing pains on offense, their excellent defense will keep them close and put them in position to win their fair share. Book ’em for eight wins this year, but next year they could jump to 11 or 12 if they can find some people besides Matt Jones who can catch the ball.

Tennessee Titans (8-8)

OK, you’ve run through ill-prepared defenses, been slinging some very pretty touchdown passes, and willed your team into playoff contention last year. I’m sold. You got more than potential, you have some serious fucking skills. But now it gets hard, Vince. With a good chunk of game film for defensive coordinators to pore over, you will find defensive schemes getting harder and harder to crack as time goes on. But the fact that you took over 100 snaps in the preseason is a good sign. You’re working your ass off and punching the clock every day, but there’s a lot of work left to do.That doesn’t mean you won’t win or succeed; it just means you’ll have to become more Steve Young and latter-day Randall Cunningham than another half-assed Michael Vick if you want to win a dozen games. Unfortunately, you won’t get there unless LenDale White can stay off the buffet line, all those free agent signings on defense learn how to play together, and your receivers learn how to catch the ball regularly. You’re not John Elway, yet, and you play in the toughest conference in football, so more than eight wins with just you and a defense doing the work just ain’t gonna happen. Hang tough, buddy, and learn how to slide at the of your runs.

Houston Texans (4-12)

This is the worst organization in football save for the Raiders. Hey, you wanted Matt Schaub, numbnuts, but he’s going to get beat up just as much as David Carr did because you refuse to build a strong offensive line. Oh, and he has only one competent receiver (Andre Johnson) to throw to. That’s brilliant. Bringing in Ahman Green to pick up maybe two yards per carry for his swan song is a shrewd move as well. You know, if Reggie Bush was back there you could let Green just be a power back taking the punishment between the tackles, but instead you have jack shit. That being said, you better pray that all those defensive linemen you have been picking (hello, Mario Williams) pan out because you have nothing, and I mean zero, all over the rest of the field. Being a head coach is a little harder than it looks, ain’t it Mr. Kubiak?

AFC West

San Diego Chargers (14-2)

Save for a dumb pass interference penalty in the fourth quarter on — you guessed it, my favorite corner — Antonio Cromartie that pretty much handed the game to Tom Brady, San Diego should have been beating Peyton Manning’s skull into little itty bitty pieces on their way to Miami and a date with sliding their collective cocks up Chicago’s colon. Instead, Marty Schottenheimer got fired, Cam Cameron took over the Dolphins and Wade Phillips took over Dallas leaving Norv Turner to be brought in to lick the boots of San Diego’s management. On paper this is the best team in football along with New England. Phillip Rivers is developing into an incredibly efficient quarterback, LaDanian Tomlinson is the best back in football, the receiving corps jells nicely with Antonio Gates, Vincent Jackson and Eric Parker (who comes back in week seven), and the defense is stacked with Shawne Merriman, Jamal Williams, Luis Castillo, Quentin Jammer, and Shaun Phillips. Hell they even have a solid stable of assistants given the drama they endured in the off-season. There’s just one problem, Turner is running the show and that could be dicey. Now, to be fair, Turner has never had a collection of players like this at his disposal since he has been a head coach, so we’ll see what he can do. However, a good craftsman never blames his tools, so there are no excuses for Norv anymore.

Denver Broncos (11-5)

Jay Cutler is on the verge of being a great quarterback. He’s working in an offensive system suited to his talents with a bevy of weapons at his disposal. He plays behind the most disciplined and dirtiest offensive line in football and will never have to sit back and throw 40 times a game. That’s thanks to Mike Shanahan’s ability to adeptly use borderline illegal cut blocks to open holes for the second-rate backs who suddenly resemble Pro Bowlers. Yeah, the Broncos get 10 wins on general principle, but the defense will shit the bed in the wild-card round thus reminding everyone it’s not a good idea to pick up Cleveland’s castoffs when you want to build a reliable defense.

Kansas City Chiefs (7-9)

Oh, you have Brody Croyle — no, wait, Damon Huard handing off to Larry Johnson. Let me call my bookie and bet my mortgage against you because this team has all the earmarks of the Bills of the mid-’70s. Superstar running back, great offensive line, solid defense and absolutely no passing game to speak of. The Chiefs come close to breaking .500 by default because they get two easy wins against the Raiders. After that, it’s a roll of the dice every fucking week.

Oakland Raiders (4-139)

OK, Lane Kiffin does not look so much out of his league as everyone originally thought, but Al Davis does. JaMarcus Russell is still not signed? Josh McCown is possibly your starting quarterback? Daunte Culpepper had to be picked up off the scrapheap? What the fuck is wrong with you? This is madness. And once again, another really good defense is being flushed down the toilet because the offense resembles a collection of guys playing Smear the Queer. The skill positions are OK, but nothing to really get excited about because Robert Gallery and company are still starting on the offensive line. Pride and poise indeed. Poised to take a cock up the ass from San Diego and apparently proud of it.

AFC Playoffs

Wild Card
Ravens 24, Broncos 10
Colts 31, Steelers 21

Divisional Round
Chargers 24, Ravens 13
Patriots 31, Colts 21

AFC Championship
Chargers 31, Patriots 27 — This in spite of Norv Turner and because Marty Schottenheimer isn’t there to fuck it up.

About Dick

An actual working journalist, he uses Ruthless because real publications donít have any interest in 50,000 word essays on Bud Selig.