Going into this off-season sports nuts and analysts alike knew that this off-season had the potential to be the most interesting off-season in recent history and one of the most interesting in NFL history, In my opinion, it did not disappoint. The first few weeks of free agency left fans heads spinning with the Chiefs making huge acquisitions in Alex Smith and Andy Reid, to Welker going to Denver after a season where it seemed New England was discretely shoving Welker out the door, to Miami landing home run hitting Mike Wallace for young upstart Ryan Tanehill. No matter what team your rooting for you were most likely effected by the ripples of this off-season. Here I wanted to touch on some of the most compelling team story lines going into this season, these are going to be interesting to watch play out.
Kansas City Chiefs: Okay, I thought I’d go with the elephant in the room right off the bat. Last year was some of the worst football I have ever watched from a team, despite having 6 pro bowlers (3 of which coming from their freak line backing core) they went 2-14, a really, really bad 2-14 seeing as the Kansas City Chiefs didn’t even HAVE A LEAD until the OT thriller in Week 10 against Pittsburgh (which they lost). But this year I would not be surprised if they actually make the playoffs (that’s right I said it.) With acquisitions , of game manager Alex Smith and head coach Andy Reid, along with the lowkey addition of talented former Colts wide receiver Donnie Avery and defense that’s on the come up lead by Tamba Hali and defensive end Justin Houston, the Chiefs have all the tools to make some noise as a potential wild card team and maybe even knock off Manning’s Broncos once this year, stay tuned in to Kansas City.
Cleveland Browns: The Cleveland Browns finished 5-11 this past season, at first look this may look like your average Cleveland Browns season but going back and recapping all these games, alot of them were actually close that were decided by a possession or so, this season could’ve easily been 6-10, 7-9 or even 8-8. My gut is telling me the Browns are about to put that division on notice, with the addition of Paul Kruger, who brings a pass rushing, “Willish” linebacker into an already solid line backing core, to win in the AFC North you need defense and the ability to run the ball and on paper the Cleveland Browns look like they might fit that bill.
New Orleans Saints: We all already know how Drew Brees and the Saints offense can get down so this really has nothing to with the offensive side of the ball, but all eyes in NO should be on that defense. The Saints are getting Sean Payton back this year good news I know, but wait it gets seemingly better. The Saints were able to land defensive guru Rob Ryan to help with their atrocious defense ( aloud 440.1 total yards) and drafted promising
young saftey Kenny Vaccaro, and though passing on Jarvis Jones I think It was a smart draft choice to go saftey in a division with Cam Newton, Matt Ryan, and Josh Freeman plus in my opinion you’ve got two ends with raw talent in Akiem Hicks and Cameron Jordan who are perfect fits and can be molded into premiere ends in Rob Ryan’s defense.
Miami Dolphins: Joe Philbin promised he was going to make a splash (Im sure the pun was intended) in south beach as the head coach of the Miami Dolphins, and showed it with his very first move. Philbin saw potential in his young QB, he knew all he needed was a premier target to really begin to make use of Tanehill’s talent, enter: Mike Wallace. Mike Wallace was probably the biggest acquisition for any team in this off-season. Not only can get by the defense with his Olympic sprinter esque speed, but he has proven he can go across the middle and get the 50/50 balls for you. Not only was did they get extremely better on the offensive side if the ball (also signing former Jets tight end Dustin Keller) with the acquisition of former ravens linebacker Daniel Ellerbe, The Dolphins have went from a conference bottom dweller to a potential 10-6 and wildcard birth and dare I say, MAYBE a win over New England?
Minnesota Vikings: Just as everyone thought the fire was dying out in the Vikings/Packers rivalry, do to Green Bays over whelming talent compared to Minnesota, Greg Jennings may-as-well have poured gasoline on it. With Minnesota’s addition of Greg Jennings to an offense that was lacking a number target who wanted to be there (cough cough Percy Harvin) not only does it potentially re-fuel this rivalry, but this might be the piece AP, Ponder and Co. Needed to get over the “hump” that is Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. The NFC is near impossible to pick right now Im not sold on a playoff birth for Minnesota yet but I will predict a 10-6 season for them as Greg Jennings finds his way in this offense.
Arizona Cardinals: For those of you who do your homework, take a look at the front 7 of The Arizona Cardinals, now add Superstar Patrick Peterson, and College sensation Tyrann Mathieus to that, scary huh? That’s why I’ve got this Arizona defense as my sleeper of the year, teams will rue the day they let Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieus team up again like their old LSU days. Carson Palmer is likely to win the starting job in the desert and though Arizona will have to wait another year for Johnny football, Palmer should be able to get them through the year, with an injured McFadden and average joe receiving core in Oakland Palmer still managed to complete 60+ % of his passes. With Fitz and red zone threat Micheal Floyd, Cardinals fans should remain patient and look forward to next off-season while still enjoying Larry Fitzgerald grab passes over 3 defenders.