Six Teams That Will Return To Nfl Playoffs In '10 SportingNews
Posted 18 June 2010 - 01:34 PM
Quietly, the Ravens have built a solid contender in only two years of the John Harbaugh regime. This year, they've beefed up the roster with the addition of receiver Anquan Boldin, linebacker Sergio Kindle, and defensive tackle Terrence Cody. Meanwhile, quarterback Joe Flacco continues to develop, and running back Ray Rice has his sights set on a 2,000-yard rushing-and-receiving season.
With plenty of talented veterans still patrolling the defensive side of the ball and one of the best young offensive lines in the game, the Ravens have laid the foundation for a perennial powerhouse.
The key to the Ravens winning a Super Bowl will be winning their division. In 2008 and 2009, the Ravens went 0-5 against teams that captured the AFC North crown. If they can take care of business against the Steelers, Bengals, and Browns, the Ravens could finally play a playoff game or two at home, and maybe earn a bye.
The Colts will be projected to make it to the playoffs for as long as quarterback Peyton Manning remains at the helm of the offense. Though last year's change at the head-coaching position required a major adjustment, the dramatically reduced role of Tom Moore, the only offensive coordinator Manning has known, will raise the challenge to a new level this year.
Manning will, as always, be up to it.
And with a defense that can stifle ball carriers even with Bob Sanders in street clothes, the Colts will be poised to once again capture the AFC South, and to play deep into January.
San Diego Chargers
Despite contract disputes with left tackle Marcus McNeill, receiver Vincent Jackson, and linebacker Shawne Merriman, the Chargers continue to occupy the mantle of a contender, primarily since they have charter membership in one of the weakest divisions in football.
Though quarterback Philip Rivers has yet to add postseason success to his regular-season prowess, he gives the Chargers an annual chance to contend.
So while it's hardly automatic that they'll win in January, they should do enough from September to December to get them back to games that matter most, especially with the Broncos, Chiefs, and Raiders serving as their primary competition.
The NFC East has a quartet of evenly-matched teams. Last year, for example, the Cowboys won the division even though the Giants, who didn't qualify for the playoffs, swept them.
This year, each franchise has question marks. Of the four, the Cowboys have the fewest.
Then there's the fact the Cowboys host the Super Bowl. That may not be enough of a carrot to get them to the game, but it should at least get them past the first major cut.
The Vikings land on this list based on one major assumption: that quarterback Brett Favre will return. If he doesn't, the Vikings don't have the horses to get to the postseason with Tarvaris Jackson, Sage Rosenfels, and/or Joe Webb at quarterback.
If Favre returns — and stays as healthy as he has been during 19 prior seasons — the Vikings will have a great shot at getting back into the postseason.
The defense continues to be strong, though not as dominant as in recent years, and the offensive line has enough pop left to keep Favre in one piece and to open holes for Adrian Peterson and an underrated group of understudies.
Though they could be setting themselves and their fans up for another postseason disappointment, look for the Vikings to be in the mix once again for a chance to change that 0-4 record in the game that counts second-most to 1-4.
Green Bay Packers
The Packers have become a trendy pick to make it to the Super Bowl and win it in the third year of life without Favre. Though it's way too early to project the Pack for a trip to Dallas in February, they've got a great chance at getting back into the playoffs, either as a wild-card or by taking the division title away from the Vikings.
Like each of the other five teams on this list, the Packers enjoy solid and consistent quarterback play. The receivers make Aaron Rodgers look even better, and the offensive line would look better if Rodgers improves on getting rid of the ball.
The defense will need to remain strong in the second season of the 3-4 under Dom Capers, and a more effective running game could come in handy. But it all should add up to get the Packers' ticket punched for another playoff appearance.
And, yes, Who Dat nation, I've arrived at the end of my list and omitted the Saints. This means that they'll be on the list of the six teams most likely to get bounced.
Again, this process presumes that six teams who made it last year won't make it back. The trend could be bucked in 2010, and more than three of the 2009 NFC playoff teams could return. Or it could be like 2008, when only one of the five NFC playoff teams from the prior year (the Giants) made it back again.
Posted 18 June 2010 - 01:44 PM
All-Star teams generate a lot of buzz, but they rarely accomplish anything when it counts.
In New York, the already enhanced expectations from a 9-7 season that ended with a berth to the AFC title game went through the roof of their roofless new stadium via the collection of big-name players like LaDainian Tomlinson, Santonio Holmes, Antonio Cromartie, and Jason Taylor.
Apart from the fact the Jets will be wearing a gigantic bull's-eye in every game, discontent among players who believe the team promised to "take care" of them could conspire to "take care" of the team's chances in 2010.
New England Patriots
Yes, the Patriots will be contenders for as long as quarterback Tom Brady and coach Bill Belichick are in New England. But that doesn't mean they'll make it to the playoffs every year.
A vague sense has developed that the team's run of greatness is much closer to the end than to the beginning. Brady has been vocal regarding problems with work ethic and responsiveness to coaching, and his message may not be heeded by teammates given his decision to stay in L.A. for much of the offseason.
While the team has enough talent to excel, the rest of the league has caught up with the Pats — and this could be only the third time since 2001 that they failed to punch through to the playoffs.
The Bengals haven't qualified for the playoffs in two consecutive years since 1981 and 1982. And that was the only time they ever pulled it off.
In 2009, the Bengals caught teams by surprise early, but as the season progressed, the rest of the league figured them out. Cincy limped into the playoffs and then staggered out in round one.
This time around, everyone will be gunning for them — and things won't come easily. Especially with Carson Palmer's accuracy disappearing for long stretches during the latter stages of last year's playoff run.
When the Eagles made Kevin Kolb their first draft pick (at the top of round two) in 2007, they laid the foundation for April's decision to dump long-time starter Donovan McNabb. And while Philly has plenty of faith in Kolb, he'll soon be facing more scrutiny than he ever could have dreamed.
The offensive line has plenty of question marks, and the defense regressed significantly in the first year of the Sean McDermott era. To succeed, the Eagles need to clamp down on opposing offenses and display patience when in possession of the ball.
It won't be easy, especially in a division that includes the Cowboys, the Giants, and McNabb.
New Orleans Saints
Yes, the Saints won the Super Bowl. Yes, most of their key players will be back. Yes, quarterback Drew Brees seems to be determined to build upon a burgeoning Hall of Fame legacy.
But the rest of the league will have had months to break down the things the Saints did to put together that historic run, and the fact they played into February — and partied into April — will make it hard to put together another similar performance.
Then there's the presence of the good-and-improving Falcons, who'll enter the season with a chip on their shoulders after missing the playoffs despite putting together a winning record.
Arizona's prospects plummeted when: 1. Kurt Warner retired; 2. Matt Leinart didn't; 3. Derek Anderson reported for duty; and 4. the Cardinals didn't immediately pounce on Marc Bulger the instant he became available.
Meanwhile, the Cardinals allowed linebacker Karlos Dansby to walk away, and they replaced him with an over-the-hill loudmouth whose bark currently is far more potent than his bite. (We're talking about Joey Porter, for those of you who can't keep straight the various over-the-hill loudmouths.)
Though the presence of coach Ken Whisenhunt arguably counts for a couple of wins, the absence of a quarterback who can take advantage of receiver Larry Fitzgerald — and the absence of an Anquan Boldin who can take advantage of the attention paid to Fitzgerald — will make if very difficult to win the NFC West for a third straight season.
Posted 18 June 2010 - 01:46 PM
I think the players are going to get sick of Norv not be able to get that team over the hump and all implodes. I think Rivers is going to go through meltdown and that defense is going to be a revolving door.
I think the Packers will be back
Baltimore is such a homer pick because they play good D and offensively they'll be pretty good.
I think if Farves there or not they fail this year.
And no mention of the Jets... BURN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Posted 18 June 2010 - 01:55 PM
We are going to shock and awe!
This writer is too funny. Obviously the Cards won't be back and neither will the Eagles. CLEARLY!
But N.O?... That's like saying the Colts won't be back in the playoffs.