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The AFC landscape in 2007

Discussion in 'PatsFans.com - Patriots Fan Forum' started by PonyExpress, Feb 2, 2007.

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  1. PonyExpress

    PonyExpress In the Starting Line-Up

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    Looking in the crystal ball, taking stock of the competition and the lay of the land going into next year...

    I don't see anyone in better shape to compete than the Pats. The coaching staff is intact and has its sea legs under it after a couple successful but ultimately disappointing years. With a load of draft picks, responsible salary cap management, a Qb in his prime, and a bevy of young core players at every position but LB, the good ship Patriot is steering steadily toward a brilliant horizon under clear blue skies (except for a blurry cloud of acid rain known as "Borges").

    The schedule, while superficially difficult, presents some advantageous matchups... The NYG will have lost Tiki Barber, changed GMs, and Coughlin is essentially a lame duck coach. In Baltimore, Billick is in a win or out scenario once again, with McNair another year older and deeper in debt... Cincinnati is being torn apart internally by self-inflicted wounds, with Palmer speaking out against the dissension caused by their collection of turds. Romeo has his finger on the pulse of a dying franchise in Cleveland, rife with disaffection and staph infections. Philadelphia has Qb issues to resolve, as well as a HC with some unfortunate family turmoil. Joe Gibbs is still putting the jigsaw puzzle together in Washington with misfit parts. Miami is a team without a Qb and with an aging defensive core. Dallas has an excellent nucleus of talent, but Norv Turner, among other HC candidates, will not inspire the Cowboy faithful or strike fear in the hearts of any opponent. SD is still loaded with talent, but the offensive staff has been gutted, Marty is a lame duck and the team is debating moving from San Diego.

    As for Pittsburgh... Mike Tomlin, the 34 year old HC, commanded the Viking D that couldn't adjust to the Pats spread for an entire game. His squad quit on him in the last game of the year vs. St Louis. He is a proponent of the 4-3 cover 2 D, and there will likely be some tactical friction with Lebeau. Whisenhunt and Whipple are gone. As Pats fans we know the turbulence coordinator changes can cause even in a franchise as well-oiled as our own. I suspect the Steeler coaching move may cost them in the short term.

    Elsewhere, we see Denver and Indy... Denver's fortunes rest on Cutler's progress. He has the benefit of working under the best play caller in the biz, Shanahan. As long as Shanahan is standing, they are a team to be reckoned with (despite winning only one playoff game in the last 8 years). However, the Denver offensive scheme and personnel are at a cross roads. Cutler is best as a drop back QB, but the Denver O-line is not ideally constructed to protect in that fashion. Rod Smith is declining. Tatum and Mike Bell are still question marks longterm...

    Indy- Key decisions will have to be made in free agency with Freeney, Harper, Doss, et. al., and the salary cap will be a challenge. A loss on SB Sunday may devastate the franchise as much as the win vs the Pats elevated it. The track record of SB losers is not one to be proud of. Even in victory their may be some let down after the road long traveled. One last note: Dungy has hinted at the possibility he may step away...

    In conclusion, if the Pats follow their well-beaten path of sound economic judgement, well-placed free agent signings and astute if unspectacular draft choices, there is every reason to believe the team can "climb the mountain" once again at the head of the pack... I only hope the negative chorus urging the Pats to deviate from their tried and true model has no influence on the organization's decision making this offseason. After this magnificent six year run, we are already seeing once stable franchises in the throes of decline, overwhelmed by the pressure of parity and change: Green Bay, Miami, Oakland, the Giants, Minnesota, Carolina, TB... even Pitt now forced to begin again...

    The most important thing for the Pats is to stay steady, consistent, strong and stable while the rest of the league breaks against us like water on rock. Not every year will yield riches, but every year we will be in the hunt. The foundation of this team is the strongest in the league thanks to Brady, BB and the Krafts. Here's to next year... can't wait!
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2007
  2. unoriginal

    unoriginal In the Starting Line-Up

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    Cheers to you Pony, for more of that feel good material.

    I'll always be wary of Indy though, because, to misquote Hillaire Belloc:

    Whatever happens, they have got
    Peyton Manning, and most do not.
     
  3. fleabassist1

    fleabassist1 In the Starting Line-Up

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    #12 Jersey

    The jet's will be very tough - as well as the AFC west. The Colt's, Jag's ... and even titans (which I think may be a surprise team, after what they did at the end of this year) as well as the bengals, and ravens will all be very tough teams.
     
  4. Seymour93

    Seymour93 Experienced Starter w/First Big Contract

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    Great spirit-lifting post, everything I agree with except for the quoted sentence above. A coach's family turmoil is a reason why we have an advantage over the Eagles? Ehhh, BB has had some problems of his own in his personal life and it hasn't affected the team at all.
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2007
  5. Box_O_Rocks

    Box_O_Rocks PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    I gather Andy Reid and the Mrs. are struggling from the tenor of the comments in this thread? Sad if that is the case. I don't buy the QB controversy at this point in the off-season, McNabb struggling to mount a comeback might create one, but Garcia isn't the franchise QB.
     
  6. alamo

    alamo praedica numerum! PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Not Reid and the Mrs, his kids.

    http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/20...s/playoffs/2006/02/01/reid.sons.ap/index.html

    PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Two of Philadelphia Eagles coach Andy Reid's sons are under investigation -- one for suspicion of pointing a gun at a motorist, the other for a car accident just hours later, after which police said he admitted using heroin.​

    Transitory stuff in the grand scheme of things... if problems like that have to happen, the offseason is the time, anyway.
     
  7. DarrylS

    DarrylS PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    If there are some personal issues effecting BB, which I doubt, there is confidence that all of this will be resolved prior to next season.. would like to see one season with no one writing about distractions, who TB is dating or body language. Just write about football.
     
  8. TomBrady'sGoat

    TomBrady'sGoat 2nd Team Getting Their First Start

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    Did you mention San Diego and I missed it? That team has the potential to dominate for a few years.

    I expect the Jets to suffer the year-after effect; more difficult schedule, teams no longer taking you for granted, etc. and falling to 8-8 next year.

    Denver and Indy, as always, are worthy of concern. Don't forget Denver because they tanked this year to get Cutler experience and don't write off Indy just because they'll lose a couple free agents.

    And you never know what team will step up. One of the Jax QBs might decide not to suck, or Vince Young might become a superstar.

    But yes, going into next year you'll have to look at Indy, NE, SD, and Denver as the class of the AFC, with SD having the highest ceiling, Denver the lowest floor, and NE and Indy with consistency and experience the other two envy.
     
  9. Sean Pa Patriot

    Sean Pa Patriot Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal

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    #12 Jersey

    Every yr is different.. We are due for a loss to the Bills, much as we trouble with the Jets, Fish... I dont want to think 2007 yet until after draft...
     
  10. Box_O_Rocks

    Box_O_Rocks PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    That has to be a kick in the stomach, too bad for the whole family, I hope things get worked out correctly to put the kids on the right track again. Thanks Alamo, I'm reminded again why I get my gossip here, better filters.
     
  11. chris_in_sunnyvale

    chris_in_sunnyvale In the Starting Line-Up

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    San Diego is positioning itself to be a beast for the next few years. Great lines, best RB and TE in the game, excellent LBs and a QB who is not a liability (with a lot of upside). The DBs aren't superior, but they are not awful, either. Ditto the WRs (despite Parker's horrible playoff game). If San Diego drafts a good WR and DB, they'll be the Pats' biggest challenge.

    The Colts hit the jackpot with Bob Sanders...their D is night-and-day with and without him. If the Colts land another impact defender like him, the Pats have another team loaded for bear in their conference.

    If Maroney comes on like I expect him to and Chad Jackson does even just a decent job, the Pats will be a beast. They must address the ILB spots, though.

    Regards,
    Chris
     
  12. everlong

    everlong Experienced Starter w/First Big Contract

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    #12 Jersey

    The Chargers and the Pats look to be the next big AFC rivalry. Pitt, Tenn, Indy, Denver have all been very good this decade and I wouldn't count them out. They all have good organizations from top to bottom and always seem to find a way.

    I'd throw in that Indy, Pitt, and Balt all have to over come cap issues, not that they cannot but they cannot blindly spend unless they plan on making one or two more big pushes and then have to re-tool like the titans.
     
  13. cstjohn17

    cstjohn17 PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    #54 Jersey

    The crystal ball is never right but I see:
    - SD, NE, maybe Indy, Ravens and Cincy as the main contenders for division titles.
    - followed by a strong second class of Pittsburgh, Denver, Jacksonville and the Jets
     
  14. PatsFanSince74

    PatsFanSince74 PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Thanks for a thoughtful analysis of next season and props to your optimistic spirit (though I hope you're right across the board and especially about the Colts and a loss on Sunday).

    i'm reluctant to handicap next season this far in advance. whodathought last September that the titans would be a tough out in December, that the Dolphins would tank or that the Jests would be in the playoffs?
     
  15. spacecrime

    spacecrime Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal

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    You know, maybe it did. How do we know it didn't? If we won the SB, you would have proof positive, but right now, who knows if it afected him or not. BB certainly made some odd decisions and calls this year.
     
  16. Kdo5

    Kdo5 Experienced Starter w/First Big Contract

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    Depending if we have a good draft(I am sure we will), if we are able to resign Samuel, I think we will be in better shape than any other team in the AFC. But so far I am not completely sold on Maroney and that Dillon should start again next year. We'll have old dudes still but lots of young guys. We look good for next season compared to how everyone thought we were in **** shape last year. I am seriously starting to really like Gaffney as a starting reciever.

    everlong, the Colts/Pats already has been a great rivalry the last several years. Ofcourse its been weird because we kicked their ass a lot during the rivalry now they have won 3 in a row. It isnt like one team wins and the next game the other team wins. Colts/Pats can potentially be one of the best rivalries in NFL history if it continues like it has. The AFCCG was one of the best I have seen in a long time even though we lost.
     
  17. RyanTheColtsFan

    RyanTheColtsFan Third String But Playing on Special Teams

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    The Colts were supposed to be in "cap hell" forever and a day now. When they only win 5 games because of it, i'll give in and say they will regress.

    But until then... count Indy in as contender again for next season.
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2007
  18. patsfaninpa

    patsfaninpa In the Starting Line-Up

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    Colts were the last team to lose each of the last two years. Polian has said Freeney will be back. I don't think that's good for their other fa's; June,Rhodes and Harper. I think the Colts biggest concern might be a backup rb if they lose Rhodes. You need more than one back. And, they don't have a 2nd round pick to get someline T.Hunt or M.Bush. I can't see Indy winning under 10-12 games over the next couple of years. Unless devastated by injuries. But, you can say injuries can hurt any team.
     
  19. PATRIOTS-80

    PATRIOTS-80 2nd Team Getting Their First Start

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    Every year is different because of injuries ... if we lose Brady or the Colts lose Manning ... year over for the most part.

    The Broncos probably will bounce back to make the play-offs.

    I think the Chargers will be better, but have a worser record (if you know what I mean).

    Chiefs and Jets I think will regress, but that's just me.
     
  20. Miguel

    Miguel Patriots Salary Cap Guru PatsFans.com Supporter

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    #75 Jersey

    Cmon, Ryan.

    Do you really think that same fans who were predicting cap hell for the Colts in 2004, in 2005, in 2006 are going to stop their refrain in 2007???

    Given their track record, I would not find any of their reports of a Colts implosion in 2007 to be very credible.;)
     
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