Saturday, March 12, 2011

The four teams in the AFC that won’t play in Super Bowl XLVI


So, rather than focusing on the lockout, which began last night, I thought I would have a little fun this morning by sticking my thumb in the eye of the analysts at ESPN and the NFL Network. Why do a thing like that? Because they are a bunch of lazy bastards who always do the easy and non-controversial thing when making predictions about the up-coming season.

This leads to all kinds of error, and a complete lack of awareness of the tremendous changes underway in every off season. Without further Ado, here are the four teams that will not contend for the title in 2011… presuming we have a season in 2011.

The San Diego Chargers

I once again heard voices on the radio and the HDTV flogging the notion that Chargers are an Uber-tallented team that is long over-due for a Super Bowl victory. Don’t make me laugh. That ship sailed years ago. Forget about it.

What are you saying, Dave? Are you saying the Chargers are not an uber-tallented team, and they aren’t over due? Yep, you’re fuckin’a right that’s what I am saying. Why? How can you say that? How can I say that? How can I say that? How can I say that? You gotta be fucking kidding me? How can I say that?

· Because it isn’t fucking 2006 anymore, bitch. Get over it. Get some news updates about the roster and the coaching staff, will you please?

· Marty Schottenheimer is not the head coach of the Chargers. Norv Turner is the head coach.

· The Chargers don’t have L.T. anymore

· The Chargers don’t have Lights-Out Merriman anymore

· Soon, they won’t have Vincent Jackson

· GM A.J. Smith is the epicenter of some very ugly labor strife

Furthermore, I still have two words that categorically prove the Chargers cannot win the Super Bowl in this epoch: Norv Turner. Just in case you haven’t noticed yet, Norv sucks as a head coach. He’s a great offensive coordinator, and a terrible head coach.

The Pittsburgh Steelers

You know the statistical law: The looser of the Super Bowl doesn’t even make the playoffs the year after. This is one of the greatest, tried and true trends in professional football. Even the 16-0 pseudo-undefeated Patriots failed to make the playoffs in 2008.

Of course, this did not prevent ESPN from crowing those Patriots the Super Bowl champions in 2008 and 2009. Likewise, I am sure the Steelers will be a big favorite of the pundits in 2011. Nope, you’re all wet. The Steelers will not make the playoffs in 2011… provided there is a 2011.

The New England Patriots

I am sure the crew in Bristol is going into mega-conniption fits, pealing backflips and having babies as they read this line. Tough shit. Read it and weep, bitches.

How can you say that, Dave? Because it isn’t the first half of the 2000s anymore, that’s how I can say it. If you actually watched pro-football games instead of just looking at box-scores, standings and crunching a few numbers, you might actually notice that this Patriot team is nowhere (and I mean nowhere) near the quality of the championship teams that once dwelt there. This is especially true on the defensive side of the ball.

But you don’t actually watch the games and/or notice how the teams play, do you? You just crunch numbers right? I watch the games, I crunch numbers, and I filter out bullshit hype. I am far better than you are.

Once upon a time, a long time ago, the Patriots won 3 Super Bowls. The last of those came some 6 years ago. This is an eternity in Pro-Football time. The team that plays in New England is no longer that team which won those Super Bowls. They may have the same coach. They may have the same QB. They are not the same team, period point-blank, no ifs ands or buts about it.

Do not call them a dynasty. Do not tell me this is a franchise with Super Bowl experience. Do not tell me that the coach and the QB are enough. Do not tell me Bellichick is going to reload in this year’s draft. The dynasty officially ended when the Commish handed the precious to the New York Giants.

It is now absolutely and completely over. The end was signed and sealed with the last three playoff tournament results. They failed to qualify in 2008. They made instant and embarrassing playoff exits in the first round in both 2009 an 2010.

The end. Turn the page. Close the book.

The Indianapolis Colts

Of all my predictions, this is the most dangerous one. Of all the teams picked to be a non-factor, this is the team most likely to be a factor. However, with that said, I think we have pretty good reason to believe that the party is in decline in Indi.

Why do I say that? As we all saw, the Colts suffered two major cracks in their juggernaut last season. Payton Manning was definitely not himself during major portions of the season. We saw a lot of interceptions and miscues that we have not seen from him since his rookie campaign. Furthermore, we saw quite substantial cracks in their defense.

Much blame was laid on injuries. Most voices chanted that pious cant. There was a small, but vocal minority that said it wasn’t so. Peyton had his chief receiver, Reggie Wayne, through the entire year. President Bill Polian laid the blame squarely on the offensive line, declaring that they just weren’t protecting Peyton. Although the line could use some upgrades, I did not notice an incredible number of sacks or pressures in the games I watched, or the compiled statistics.

We need to call a spade a spade: Manning had a bad year. We hope he doesn’t have two. We don’t know whether he will or not. He seems to be fairly deeply involved in the current labor unrest, and he refused to sign his tender. We don’t really know what he is up to in all this, but one thing is for sure: he can’t be allocating as much time as he usually does to off-season preparation.

But on to the defense… As Ray Lewis has correctly said, if you took Peyton away from the Colts, they would be a sub-average football team. I happen to believe Ray was speaking of the Colts defense. It seems that this unit has been perpetually suspect for 6 or 7 years now. Tony Dungy did everything he could to hold that unit together, but it was a high maintenance machine: It kept breaking down, especially in key moments.

I personally doubt that Jim Caldwell has what it takes to prop up the sagging Colt defense. I think this is the most important reason to expect a drop-off in the Colts’ regular season performance this year.