Re: AFC Divisional Breakdown
My breakdown between the Pats,Phins,and Steelers:
Steelers (14-2): Lost ARE and Hope.ARE was not as good as everyone thinks he is.He's average at best as a reciever,his real skills were on special teams and gadget plays.Now some people think our offense is run on the gadgets...but if you watch it isn't.We run and pass,and then throw in a gadget every once-in-a-while.Can we still run the gadgets?Hell yes we can!Ward can throw the ball,Heath Miller can throw the ball,flea-flickers back to Ben who we ALL KNOW can throw the ball.
Cedric Wilson will probally start the season at the #2 reciever position unless Santonio Holmes really impresses in TC and takes the job from Cedrick.But expect to see a lot of Holmes;he has the speed,hands,and crisp route running to really get away from DB's.I expect Holmes to start at #2 some point in the season...but don't look past Wilson,he really stepped his game up in the playoffs and I look for that to transfer over into this season.
Chris Hope was our biggest loss.It would have been awesome to resign him,but stupid to overpay like the Titans did.Him and Polamalu had a real nice chemistry but there is no reason that Polamalu can't have chemistry with Ryan Clark.It won't be the same,but there is no reason to think our secondary is going to suddenly suck either.We also have Tyrone Carter who played well when given a chance last year and we drafted Anthony Smith who will probally be the starter in a year or two.Brett Keisel is going to replace Kimo who was getting old anyhow.He's gonna bring youth and excitment to DE and really make out d-line even better.Expect him to get about 8 sacks this year,much better than Kimo's 3.5.Our linebacking core is still there with Porter,Farrior,Foote,and Haggans.
There is no real hole on this team.There is no real reason to think the Steelers can't repeat as Super Bowl Champs.
New England Patriots (11-5): The division will be thiers,if Tom Brady can stay healthy.If not,there is a chance they will lose the division.Maroney will bring some new young blood to the RB position and spell Corey Dillion when his getting-old legs need a break.If Dillion doesn't step up and play like he can,then I expect Moroney to become the full-time starter on this team.If thier o-line can stay healthy than that'll give Dillion and Maroney holes to run through and keep Brady upright.If the line can't stay healthy then expect the Pats offense to struggle at times,especially against really good defenses.Troy Brown will have to have a really good year to replace Givens.Chad Jackson will get playing time,but he won't have a huge impact on the offense.
They lost the most clutch kicker in NFL history,and that could really come back to bite them in the ass.In close games,Gramattica won't make all those clutch field goals.And he won't make any in windy & snowy games,especially 45+ yarders.If they need a FG to win/tie the game,the Pas might start to wish they woulda payed Vinateri instead of taking him for granted.
The defense though solid,has shown that it indeed isn't the best the league has to offer.Teams have shown they can be scored on,and scored on they will be this year.
Miami Dolphins (8-8): Cullpepper MIGHT be an upgrade in the QB position,but nobody knows if he's any good without Randy Moss and last year he showed that he can't function properly as a QB without Moss to throw jump balls to.Not to mention he tore his knee up last year and may not be back to start the season.Joey Harrington is a downgrade and if he plays a lot then Miami could possibly lose every game he plays.He sucked in Detroit,Miami won't be any different.It doesn't help Miami's case that they open up in the home of the defending Super Bowl Champion Pittsburgh Steelers (I LOVE SAYING THAT!) and will get beat up by New England twice this year.But they can beat the Bills and Jets no problem,unless Harrington is playing.
Thier defense is good,but they have lost a lot recently on that side of the ball.If thier D suffers this year and Harrington ends up playing more games at QB that anticipated,then thier win-loss record will be worse than 8-8.
Congrats to the 2009 Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins