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NFL Preview 2001

By The SCROOMstaff

Can you feel it? Can you smell the carnage in the air? Do you have a stack of preseason magazines and a well-oiled remote control at your side? The NFL is returning after a too-long off-season, and here at the 'times life is good. To continue the tradition we started last year, we will give a real quick take on all the NFL teams and their chances for the upcoming campaign. We aim to give you just enough football info to make you knowledgeable around the water cooler. All teams are listed by division and predicted order of finish.

American Football Conference

AFC East

  1. Indianapolis Colts - Division Champs - The Colts have slipped off of folk's radar after a disappointing playoff performance last year. This season their upgraded defense will be enough to get them the division and maybe a whole lot more.
  2. Miami Dolphins - Jay Fiedler? Lamar Smith? This season the lack of offensive talent catches up to miracle worker Dave Wannstedt.
  3. New York Jets - Vinny will be Vinny, the Jets will fold like the house of cards that they are and they will begin their long slow slide back into the mediocrity from whence they came. If that sounds familiar it's because I wrote the same exact thing last season. Repeat, as needed, third place.
  4. New England Patriots - The Pats are coming apart at the seams. Watch as they race the Bills for worst record in the East.
  5. Buffalo Bills - Rob Johnson? Must have seemed like a good idea at the time. Buffalo will manage to eke out a place in history as the final last place finisher in the AFC East as it is presently constituted.

AFC Central

  1. Tennessee Titans - Division Champs - Tennessee scares me. They are young, they are hungry and they are talented. But I don't think the offense is going to get it done. They will win the division, but they will lose in their first playoff game.
  2. Baltimore Ravens - Wild Card - They will be very good on defense, but without Jamal Lewis they are a Wild Card at best. Elvis Grbac, don't make me laugh. Rule one, never give up a winner for a stats machine.
  3. Pittsburgh Steelers - This year's surprise pick. The Steelers will eke out a winning season in one of the toughest divisions in football.
  4. Jacksonville Jaguars - Lights out, the party's over. Jacksonville's window has closed.
  5. Cleveland Browns - They will finish ahead of the Bengals, that had better be enough for them.
  6. Cincinnati Bengals - Unfortunately for them, their can only be one worst team in the league.

AFC West

  1. Seattle Seahawks - Division Champs - Where Holmgren goes, he wins. He's had two years, the defense will be much better, Hasslebeck will get the job done at QB and that will be enough to make them the best in the west.
  2. Denver Broncos - Wild Card - Too much ground game.
  3. San Diego Chargers - Wild Card - Another surprise team, Flutie will get them in this year and Brees will do it for the foreseeable future.
  4. Kansas City Chiefs - Don't bet against Dick Vermeil. Though I will. Nuff said.
  5. Oakland Raiders - Last year was a fluke, they are old at the skill positions and Gruden got everything humanly possible out of them last year. 8 and 8, for the three hundredth year in a row. Yes, I am going to save this for next year.

National Football Conference

NFC East

  1. Philadelphia Eagles - Division Champs - With a healthy Deuce Staley and an upgraded receiving corps, they might just go all the way.
  2. New York Giants - Sorry Kerry, you got the job done, my hat is off to you. The most team in the division is good enough for second.
  3. Arizona Cardinals - From last year, "Plummer returns to '98 form and the Cards have a surprising third place finish." What the heck let's try it again
  4. Washington Redskins - Proof that karma is real. If only the Cowboys could pass them for fourth place.
  5. Dallas Cowboys - But they can't.

NFC Central

  1. Green Bay Packers - Division Champs - Again from last year, "Brett Favre, Dorsey Levens and Antonio Freeman all feel as though they have something to prove. Call it the Pack's last stab at glory and give them the division title." It has to come true eventually.
  2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Wild Card - If Brad Johnson stays healthy they will win the division.
  3. Detroit Lions - Matt Millen will improve this team immediately.
  4. Minnesota Vikings - No Robert Smith. No defense. Watch Daunte Culpepper come back to earth in a bug way.
  5. Chicago Bears - I don't even think the Bears have a clue as to what they are trying to do.

NFC West

  1. St Louis Rams - Division Champs - The most talented team in the conference and they play in the weakest division in football. If Kurt Warner can keep his head on straight they will be dangerous.
  2. New Orleans Saints - Wild Card - They are about a year away from being really scary, but the QB position is just too young for me.
  3. San Francisco 49ers - Ah, the joy of playing in the weakest division in professional sports. Any other division and this is a 3-13 team. In the West, they might grab a wildcard.
  4. Atlanta Falcons - If Jamal can come back they will do better than fourth.
  5. Carolina Panthers - Pencil them in for two wins against the 49ers. Beyond that things could get dicey. Weinke will be the surprise, feel-good player of the year.

Post-Season play

AFC Title - Colts over Titans

NFC Title - Eagles over Saints

Super Bowl - Colts over Saints