Archive for September 8th, 2009

NFL Preview Bonanza: AFC West

SAN DIEGO CHARGERS

Last Season: 8-8

This Season: 13-3, AFC #1

Everything sets up perfectly for San Diego to cruise to the top seed in the AFC. Shawne Merriman is back, meaning the defense will transform from bad to above-average. LaDainian Tomlinson can’t be as bad as he was last year, and Darren Sproles should spell him more. Vincent Jackson and Chris Chambers are good No. 2 receivers. Antonio Gates should be healthy. Oh, and did I mention they play in the AFC West? I’d be stunned if the Chargers lost more than one divisional game this year. I don’t know what they’ll do once they get to the playoffs, but I don’t expect the Chargers to have to leave San Diego.

Tim’s favorite player in San Diego charger history is…: He was a big-time part of that run to the Super Bowl in 1994, he was briefly a Giant, he was arguably the fifth-best tight end in Charger history. He’s none other than Alfred Pupunu!

A Great and Recent Charger Game: While San Diego has rung the Colts’ bell a few times the last several seasons (twice in the playoffs and once to end Indy’s undefeated season), the road victory to close out the RCA Dome in 2007 is probably the best of the three.

I forgot Billy Volek was huge in that game: It’s about time we go ahead and anoint Billy the best backup in the NFL.

I also forgot LaDainian Tomlinson was once good: It’s arguable that nobody in football has had their on-field reputation fall more in the last year or so than Tomlinson’s. That’s part of the reason I expect a bounceback season from LdT.

If the Chargers were the career of an actor, they would be: Paul Rudd. They’ve been on the verge of stardom for so long; they just need the proper vehicle to put it all together. (I Love You, Man, though funny, did not put it ALL together.)

Are you really getting through this without once mentioning the Merriman/Tila Tequila thing? What can I say? I don’t do “topical” humor.

Did you know? The Chargers were right to fire Marty Schottenheimer.

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NFL Preview Bonanza: AFC South

TENNESSEE TITANS

Last Season: 13-3

This Season: 11-5, AFC #2

Solid if unspectacular, the Titans’ defense will suffer from the loss of Albert Haynesworth while the offense will benefit from the continued maturation of Chris Johnson and LenDale White and the off-season pick-up of Nate Washington (it doesn’t sound like much, but do you realize who this team’s receivers are?). Can I see the Titans being a team that goes from 13-3 to 7-9? Absolutely: Kerry Collins is their quarterback. At the same time, I expect them to grind out close wins and find themselves at the top of the division and with a first-round bye for a second straight year.

Tim’s favorite player in Tennessee Titan history is…: I talked about it a few weeks ago, but the late Steve McNair was my favorite player of the last decade.

A Great and Recent Titan Game: Ten years later, and it’s still hard to believe Home Run Throwback happened. Especially if you’re from Buffalo.

You know who might be underrated? Kerry Collins was one game away from going to a championship game with his third different franchise. Off the top of my head, I can’t think of another quarterback who’s done that, and the only two I can think of that took two teams that far are Kurt Warner and Joe Montana.

I was really excited for this, but now I’m not as much: The Titans will wear Houston Oilers throwbacks during the season to honor the 50th anniversary of the AFL. Unfortunately, they’re wearing their old AFL jerseys and not the greatest uniforms in the history of football.

If the Titans were a character from The Wire, they would be: Kima. They’re not flashy, they’re not the main character, but they’re always there, doin’ work.

Did you know? Eddie George once did this to Ray Lewis.

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NFL Preview Bonanza: AFC North

PITTSBURGH STEELERS

Last Season: 12-4

This Season: 11-5, AFC #4

The defending Super Bowl champs will suffer a little from the Super Bowl hangover, but not quite to the extent they did when they missed the playoffs three years ago. It’ll be interesting to see if Santonio Holmes uses his incredible performance in Super Bowl XLIII as a springboard to greater things, or if he Deion Branches it from here on out. The defense is still the best in the league, and Rashard Mendenhall will provide needed depth in the backfield.

Tim’s favorite player in Steeler history is…: Lynn Swann’s graceful game may have complemented his name better than any other player in NFL history.

You know who might be underrated: Kordell Stewart kind of grew into a laughingstock later in his career, but the guy did lead his team to two AFC title games as a starter, was a huge part (perhaps illegally) of the AFC Champion squad in 1995, and in a way set the stage for the running quarterbacks and Wildcat packages we see today. I’m not saying he was great, but he wasn’t as bad as most people remember. Plus, he did this.

Remember when Tommy Maddox was quarterback of the Steelers? Me neither.

A Great and Recent Steeler Game: The aforementioned 1995 AFC Championship is the second-best AFC title game of the last 15 years. Kudos to Dick Enberg’s “Not just the work of a week or a season, but the dreams of a lifetime on the line right here.”

If the Steelers were a work of American literature, they would be: Moby Dick. Good, but pretty boring.

Did you know? The Steelers’ logo only appears on one side of their helmet! Crazy!

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