The 2009 NFL Season kicked-off Thursday night, with the defending champion Steelers getting the win, despite struggling to run the ball and losing one of their most talented players, Troy Polamalu, – who was playing out of his mind for the first part of the game – to the “Madden Curse”. About the curse: are we getting to the point where appearing on the cover of a video game should impact a player’s fantasy value? It didn’t even cross my mind when I took Larry Fitzgerald in the first round of one of my fantasy drafts. I’m going to be furious if he gets hurt and ruins my season because John Madden decided to take a break from fellating Brett Favre and create the most successful sports video game franchise ever. But I digress. We’ve got a full slate of games this weekend and it wouldn’t be professional sports without a few matchups featuring teams that are rebuilding, have inept ownership, or are just plain terrible for any number of reasons. This time of year, everyone is making playoff predictions. I’ll go the other way. Here are the 7 teams that will suck this year, and an over/under line related to their likely failure:
Cincinatti Bengals – Last Year’s Record: 4-11-1 – This Year (Projected): 4-12 – For the Bengals, last year’s season ended when Carson Palmer went down with an elbow injury. He’ll be back, but they lost their leading receiver, T.J. Houshandzadeh, to free agency, which leaves them with Lavernaues Coles and Chad Ochocinco, who is about 20% receiver and 80% distraction. The artist formerly known as Chad Johnson has apparently found a loophole in the NFL’s new Twiter policy, which will likely result in fines, hours upon hours of ESPN coverage, and a 4-12 record. On the bright side, they have a very real chance of being the best NFL team from the Buckeye state. Over/Under: 1.5 halftime tweets from OGOchoCinco.
Detroit Lions – Last Year: 0-16 – This Year: 3-13 – It should come as no surprise that the team who infamously went all of last season without a victory appears on this list. Never have expectations ever been so low. Would 1-15 be considered a success in the Motor City? They’ve decided to start their rookie quarterback Matthew Stafford and hope for a Flacco/Ryan-esque year one from the former Georgia Bulldog. Though Stafford is clearly a talented guy, his supporting cast isn’t great, and they play in a division with good defenses. If I were a Detriot fan, I’d brace myself for rookie year similar to Eli Manning’s, not Flacco or Ryan. Over/Under: 55.5 fans wearing paper bags over their heads per home game.
St. Louis Rams – Last Year: 2-14 – This Year: 2-14 – The Rams might be the most boring team in the league. Not only are they bad, but they lack the charismatic players or interesting storylines of the other terrible teams. The Rams no longer employ Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt at wide reciever, who were the last remaining pieces of “The Greatest Show on Turf”. Offensively, they’re left with the oft-injured Marc Bulger and Stephen Jackson, neither of whom have started all 16 games in multiple seasons. I’d be shocked to see them both in every game, and even if they can both stay healthy, it’s unlikely they’ll win many games with a defense that last year allowed more points than all but one NFL team. Over/Under: 24.5 Combined Games Played by Bulger and Jackson.
Buffalo Bills – Last Year: 7-9 – This Year: 5-11 – Things are not looking good in Buffalo. They’re playing home games in Toronto, leading to much discussion that a move to Canada might be in the works. In case that wasn’t distraction enough they’ve become the latest franchise to partake in the Terrell Owens experiment, effectively throwing their young quarterback Trent Edwards under the bus. It is possible T.O. will be a good citizen all year long, but in the words of Albert Einstein, insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. Is the Bills’ management insane? Yes, quite possibly. Over/Under: 8.5 losses until the inevitable “if it looks like a rat”, driveway workout press conference, tight end-quarterback collusion, T.O. meltdown.
San Francisco 49ers – Last Year: 7-9 – This Year: 6-10 – Quite a few “experts” have the 49ers picked to challenge the Cardinals for this year’s NFC West title. Larry Fitzgerald & Co. are no juggernaut, but I’m not buying it. Shaun Hill is unproven at best, and I don’t foresee great things for a team that might not get anything out of their top ten pick. Mike Singletary might end up becoming a great coach, but he was a bit of a loose cannon in his first 9 games as a head coach and I’d expect that losing might bring that to the forefront. They division they play in is arguably the worst in the NFL, so the Niners will a few victories here and there, but I think 6-10 is their ceiling. Over/Under: 0.5 Mike Singletary transgressions requiring a public apology.
Oakland Raiders – Last Year: 5-11 – This Year: 3-13 – Al Davis owns and operates this franchise. Need I elaborate? Over/Under 7.5: Raiders’ longest losing streak of the 2009 season.
Cleveland Browns – Last Year: 4-12 – This Year: 2-14 – Is there really a quarterback controversy in Cleveland? This is the kind of thing that should be settled by a coin flip, roll of dice, or casting of lots Old Testament style. I’m not sure there’s any way to differentiate between the Browns with Brady Quinn and the Browns with Derek Anderson. They’re in a tough division, have an awful defense, and their number one dropper reciever, Braylon Edwards, hasn’t lived up to his potential. (Have you seen his NFL Fantasy File? Is it some sort of joke?) Over/Under: 11.5 dropped passes for Mr. Edwards.
There you have it; the bottom of the NFL barrel. It’s possible that one of these teams (not Oakland though, as far as I’m concerned they’re locked in at 3-13) might surprise us and go 8-8, but good luck finding this year’s Dolphins. Enough talk of losing. Enjoy the season everyone.
Over or under?