Posted: Thursday September 1, 2005 11:52AM; Updated: Friday September 2, 2005 2:17PM
Quarterbacks Tom Brady (right) and Doug Flutie talk at Patriots camp.
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
1. PATRIOTS (11-5)
Teams will run at them hard, just as they did in 2002. There's no sluggo LB like Ted Johnson around anymore, a guy who'll take on the guards. ChadBrown's body won't let him do it for 16 games or more. I'll bet they go with some pure 4-3 this season. Tom Brady has no CharlieWeis around to whisper to on the sidelines. I'm guessing that's what they got Doug Flutie for, not so much to come in and play QB if he has to, but as a sounding board for Brady. I think they'll be good but not great. But I've been wrong before.
2. JETS (10-6*)
I'm really curious to see if all the heat their offensive coordinator, Paul Hackett, took last year was deserved. If they light it up and score 30 a game under MikeHeimerdinger, then I might agree, sort of. Everything's in place ... great runner, fine QB in Chad Pennington if his shoulder holds up, excellent O-line. The defense breathes fire, as lit by Donnie Henderson, their coordinator. What's to hold them back? Maybe nothing, except their peculiar habit of doing weird things with the clock, down and distance and stuff like that at the end of games.
3. BILLS (8-8)
It just dawned on me. This is the division of fine defenses. Here's another one, and there's still another good one coming up when we get to Miami. I'm trying hard to get away from the obvious ... kind of an "It all hinges on QB J.P. Losman" type of approach ... but how can you do it, honestly? If he's as good as they say, OK, playoffs, even though the O-line is not that good. If he's what other people say, then he's a me-me-me guy -- immature and not overly liked. We'll see ("Boy, that's really deep," says the Redhead. Fine, Linda, you try writing something sensible about 32 teams).
4. DOLPHINS (5-11)
Quarterbacking? Can't say for sure. Offensive line? Terrible last year. Maybe better now. Hopeful sign? Hiring Hudson Houck to coach that unit. Yeah, says the little voice, and last year you laughed at the Chiefs for thinking they could fix their defense with Gunther Cunningham. Shaddup, OK? Let's just move on to something more promising.