"Hey, Joe!""Frank! Hey Tom, this is Frank. New on our floor, so I invited him to watch the game.""Fine," said Tom. "Come on in. Chips and snacks on the table, beer in the cooler and fridge. Pizza's almost ready."Tom went to the kitchen."He made pizza?""Yeah, well, don't get excited. He makes pizza depending on how good he thinks the team is."Tom came back in, pizza in hand. Frank looked at it."What kind of a pizza is this?!" he said."Peanut butter and anchovy," Tom said."Gonna be a long season?" Frank asked."Yup," said Tom and Joe.
Yup...it's football season! And it's time for my general rundown of thoughts on the season that just launched yesterday (actually last Thursday, but there it is).
How good will the Buffalo Bills be? Well, they won't be all that great. But I don't think they'll be a train wreck either, unless injuries rip giant holes in their offensive line. (This is, sadly, not beyond the realm of possibility.) I expect better defense and, as long as everybody stays healthy, an offense that will be better than most expect. I look at this team and frankly I see, with an average amount of good luck, a 7-9 team. And while 7-9 is annoyingly similar to what we've seen from the Bills most years of late, in this case 7-9 would be an improvement. We'll see what happens.
The Bills dumped some salaries in the offseason, by doing things like trading Lee Evans to the Ravens for a 4th-round pick next year and by not resigning free agents like Paul Poszluzny (no idea how to spell that) and Donte Whitner. Interestingly, every player the Bills let go is one who has been generally ripped for being overrated at best while they were here, but now that they're gone, fans are taking the opposite tack, ripping the Bills for dumping salary! My simple response is, "How badly are the Bills likely to miss these guys?" If the answer is "Not very badly", then I'm thinking, "Then let 'em go." The Bills seem to have stopped throwing money at average players, which is good. Right now it leaves them with an awful lot of cap room, but so what? Now they can figure out which of their young guys they want to sign to long-term deals and have the room to do it.
Fans and media also ripped the Bills for not signing more than a couple free agents, none of whom are really marquee players. Again I say, So what? Everyone agrees that the Bills are lacking in talent across the board and need to really hit on a number of draft picks in order to build a nucleus of winning talent for the future. That being the case, it makes sense not to throw money at free agents on a team that's unlikely to win much to begin with. That's been the Wsahington Redskins approach, and it has not produced good results down there. I don't want to do that here, either.
So anyway: with a total "best-case" scenario, I can see the Bills eking out a 9-7 record, but "total best-case" scenarios obviously never happen. I'm thinking they'll be in the 6-10 or 7-9 range. We'll see.
I won't bother predicting the rest of the divisions, but I will make a Super Bowl pick: Packers over Ravens. I think the Ravens are ready to step forward and knock off the Steelers, who will likely have a down year (for them, anyway). And I think that the Packers are the best-equipped-to-repeat team I've seen since the 2004 Patriots.
Other random predictions:
:: Assuming Andrew Luck doesn't have a crappy season that doesn't send his draft stock into freefall, I expect him to end up either in Cincinnati or Washington.
:: I don't think that Peyton Manning has more than two years left.
:: I would not be at all surprised to see Tom Brady start to show signs of physical decline this year. (This would, of course, make me happy.) I would also say that if St. Tom the Overrated is to ever win another ring, it has to be this year. If he doesn't win his fourth ring this year, he won't win it ever.
:: I am not nearly as sold on the Jets as everybody else is. Mark Sanchez doesn't impress me all that much.
:: Nor am I convinced that the Eagles are going to be great, although I do think they'll win that division.
:: The Bills will conform to their usual pattern versus the Patriots: they'll play them close but lose the first one, and get their arses kicked in the second one. Oh well.
That's about it. Let there be football!