With my fellow scribes announcing their Super Bowl picks earlier and earlier, I'm taking a different tack: I'll tell you which five teams won't be there. I'm not talking about the easy picks, either. There won't be any 49ers, Packers, Texans or Raiders on this list. Instead, I'm going after those teams that have enough talent to possibly grace NFL-preview magazine covers but also have enough problems to leave their fans disappointed.
If I'm wrong about this, you can shoot me an angry e-mail. Until then, I've got a pretty bad feeling about these five teams.
1. Miami: The Dolphins will be a popular pick to win the AFC East for those who only look at how Miami finished 2005. Yes, coach Nick Saban did lead his team to six straight wins after a 3-7 start. But that run also included five victories against teams that didn't make the playoffs -- Oakland, Buffalo, San Diego, the New York Jets and Tennessee -- and a sixth win against a New England team resting its starters for the playoffs. The main question here is whether quarterback Daunte Culpepper can regain his Pro Bowl form. If he can't, then these Dolphins remind me of last season's Buffalo Bills, a team that rode into the year with a wave of high expectations and flopped under the pressure.
2. Philadelphia: If I'm an Eagles fan, I have some major concerns about this offense. It's starting to look a lot like it did back in the days before Terrell Owens blew into town. There isn't a receiver who really scares a defense. The running game isn't intimidating either, not when Brian Westbrook will be splitting carries with Ryan Moats and the oft-injured Correll Buckhalter. Even with a healthy Donovan McNabb back at quarterback, there are plenty of reasons to think that the best days of this perennial NFC contender have passed. One look at the competition in the NFC East -- where Washington, Dallas and the New York Giants have improved -- should cement that opinion.