Ohh man. Can you feel that? No, that isn’t my hand on your leg. Well, it is, but I was talking about something else. That feeling of excitement and hope that comes around in late August. That, my friends, is the feeling of the NFL season coming upon us. As Earth’s resident NFL expert, it is my duty to analyze and preview every NFL team so that you all know what to expect when the season finally does kick off.
This preview will be done in two installments, one for each conference. The first one will be the AFC. I’ll go through, division by division and then at the end project who I will believe will be the 6 playoff teams for the conference. When winter rolls around and the playoffs begin, you can come back to this exact post and wonder how I manage to do it without being captured by the government as some sort of psychic mutant.
Which I most definitely am not. Ahem. So anyway, let’s get on with the show!
Player to watch: Peyton Manning
Even if I didn’t tell you to watch Peyton Manning, you would still be forced to watch Peyton Manning. You would see him on every fourth commercial on TV, you’d probably see him in some viral video online, you’d probably see him at your local soup kitchen on Thursday nights helping the homeless and needy. And even with all this extra shit that he does, Manning will still manage to be the best quarterback in the league, surgically dissecting defenses like he’s a surgeon or someone who does surgery or some shit.
He’s really good, okay? And he’s going to lead the Broncos to another AFC Championship game, and probably cure Alzheimer’s in his spare time.
San Diego Chargers
Player to watch: Philip Rivers
The Chargers surprised a lot of people last year by going 9-7 and making the playoffs, but people were even more surprised that quarterback Philip Rivers was only kind of a douchebag last year. He had his best season in ages and he only yelled at his teammates like, a little bit. If he can reproduce this sudden kindly nature and maybe not spend time making more kids, the Chargers could possibly make another run at heading to the playoffs. Especially when you have two games against the Raiders every year.
Player to watch: ?????
I don’t know any players worth watching on the Raiders. I tried to think of someone, anyone to put up here but no one deserves the energy it would take me to type their name. I even tried to do some research and Googled “2014-2014 Oakland Raiders football players” and it spit back at me, “Did you mean something else completely, because nothing like that exists.”
If you are desperate to watch some Raiders football, and God have mercy on your soul if you are, then YouTube Marcus Allen or something.
Kansas City Chiefs
Player to watch: Charcandrick West
I couldn’t really think of any players to watch for the Chiefs. They’re a pretty boring team to make fun of. So I checked their website and came across Charcandrick West and decided that he is the player to watch based on his name alone. Seriously? Charcandrick West? That sounds like a Game of Thrones character.
Unfortunately, he is a running back playing behind Jamaal Charles and Knile Davis so when you’re watching out for him during Chiefs games you’ll only see him if the camera makes a quick cut towards the Chiefs sideline. You’ll probably see him on the bench, drinking Gatorade or maybe clapping and nodding his head in encouragement for his teammates that are actually playing. That’s if he isn’t too busy fighting Lannisters on the King’s Road.
Player to watch: Jadaveon Clowney
Clowney is a video game character. His physical attributes make him seem like his is actually just here on Earth while on vacation from Krypton. If he pans out, he could be one of the most dominant defensive players in the league on a defense that people seem to forget was pretty good a year ago. Of course, that is a pretty big ‘if’ because as insanely athletic and huge Clowney is, he is also apparently Samuel L. Jackson’s character from Unbreakable and he is always playing with some sort of nagging injury.
Houston may have had the 1st pick in the draft last year, but they caught a lot of bad breaks last year such a season ending injury to Brian Cushing, their head coach having a stroke, and having Matt Schaub as their quarterback for the first half of the season. I actually wouldn’t be surprised if they pull things together, especially on defense, and given the Colts some trouble in the division. The other teams though? Hahahahahaha. Okay. Sure.
Player to watch: Blake Bortles
No, I don’t mean to watch Blake Bortles play. I mean watch him as in “suicide watch” because that is precisely what Bortles will need. If he gets through a game without looking at sharp objects or poisonous substances with a yearning glance, the season should be considered a success. Usually getting picked in the one of the top 3 positions in the draft is a huge honor, except when the team that picks you is the Jaguars. Then it’s just an awful.
Even if Bortles doesn’t play this year, as the Jags staff is heavily hinting because they aren’t good at deciding football things, he will still be sitting on the bench watching in helpless agony as he sees firsthand the team that he will inherit in the near future. It will be like someone inheriting a brand new car, right after it’s been in a 12 car pileup and after a homeless man took a shit in the passenger seat.
Poor, poor Bortles. At least the Jags will have another top 3 pick and he will share the misery with some other poor schlub next year. And the next. And the next. Aaaaaand the next.
Player to watch: Chris Johnson. Oh, he’s on the Jets now? Uhhh. Jevon Kearse? He’s retired. Um. Steve McNair? Oh shit, he’s fucking dead??? Well, that’s embarrassing for me. Um. Jake Locker is on this team, right? Okay, let’s go with him.
I’m not going to lie. I forgot the Titans existed. I wrote the names of the 31 other NFL teams and couldn’t for the life of me think of the 32nd. The Titans are like a creature in a Lovecraft story, a creature that a village is vaguely aware of but that the human mind doesn’t comprehend it because it’s so terrible. Or in the case of the Titans, the human mind can’t comprehend them because they’re so god damned mediocre.
And look no further than Jake Locker for said mediocrity. A strong but wildly innacurate arm mixed with surprising athleticism that does nothing but lead him into dangerous situations that often results in being injured for prolonged lengths of time. Even if Locker has a breakout year, the Titans still don’t have an earth shattering defense and their running backs are far from scary. Unless you’re a Titans fan, then you should be very scared of them because they are not very good. Expect the Titans to compete with the Jags for the admirable title of “worst in the AFC South.”
Player to watch: Andrew Luck’s neck beard
The Colts should have no problem winning the AFC South. They’re loads better than the Jags and Titans and the Texans still have too many question marks to be a legitimate threat. So instead of analyzing them from a football perspective, I just want to take the time to write a PSA concerning Andrew Luck’s neck beard.
Dear Andrew Luck. Shave that fucking thing. It looks like someone loaded a shotgun with pubic hair and pulled the trigger all over the bottom of your neck. You are one of the most exciting young quarterbacks in the game and it’s tough to enjoy your dazzling play when I think of scrotums every time you take off your helmet.
Player to watch: Knowshon Moreno
When Moreno came into Dolphins training camp, there were reports of him looking fat and out of shape. But cut the guys some slack. He went from being in an offense led by Peyton Manning to one led by Ryan Tannehill. You’d let yourself go too. I like to imagine Moreno sitting on his floor in nothing but his underwear and with three open bags of Doritos nestled on his junk, as he watches highlights of last year’s Broncos offense and tears stream down his face.
Things are about to get a lot worse, Knowshon, so don’t throw away the Doritos just yet. The Dolphins have a shoddy offensive line that’s going to be even shoddier this year thanks for a lot of youth and inexperience. Their defense will keep them competitive for most games, but they don’t award Vince Lombardi trophies for “being competitive”.
New York Jets
Player to watch: Michael Vick
Have you been paying attention to Michael Vick’s offseason? He has been actively endorsing Geno Smith to win the starting quarterback job for the Jets. This has gotten to the point where the coaching staff is actually disappointed that he isn’t trying harder to win the job.
We’ve come to a fascinating crossroads in Vick’s career. Vick has worked so hard to get his career back on track after staying in prison for dogfighting but he finds himself on a team with an offense so shitty he is perfectly content playing back up and not ever seeing the field. I wouldn’t be surprised if Vick jumped off a two story building to injure himself so he could remove all chance of him ever having to take a snap for New York.
And to show how badly things have gotten in the world of Gang Green, Rex Ryan hasn’t guaranteed a Super Bowl this year. Even Ryan is like, “Uhh, ummm, maybe next year or a few years from now.”
Player to watch: Sammy Watkins, probably, maybe.
Sammy Watkins COULD be the best wide receiving prospect since Julio Jones, MAYBE. IF things end up working out, experts think he PROBABLY could be really good. This is like I saying I COULD have a girlfriend if I knew how to talk to girls and actually left my house more than twice a week. So you see, I say all of these things in all caps and with trepidation because, yanno, it’s the NFL and good young players often don’t pan out. Let alone players drafted by a team that has been a perennial loser since the Music City Miracle and stuck in a town so boring they are thinking of moving the team to Canada. I say again, CANADA.
I didn’t put that in all caps because I’m trying to enunciate trepidation, but rather because Canada is so shitty.
New England Patriots
Football play guy to watch good: Gronk
Gronk good. But Gronk get hurt ouch a lot. Can Gronk no get hurt ouch? Gronk don’t know. If Gronk play good, Pats play good. If Gronk no play good and get hurt ouce, Pats play not good and Tom Brady yell at things.
Gronk like dogs. They furry and smiley and Gronk likes hug them.
Player to watch: Ray Rice
The main storyline heading into the Ravens season is, of course, Ray Rice. Last year his stats were taking a noticeable dip towards the shitty side (I think there’s a statistical category called ‘shitty side’, at least). This resulted in lots of critics calling out Rice to start being the aggressive, all purpose feature back that he had spent his career being.
Unfortunately, he interpreted that advice as, “Okay, I need to go out and hit a woman, I guess.” Rice punched his at the time fiancee and his, confusingly, now wife and dragged her out of an elevator in some casino. And he would have gotten away with it if it weren’t for that meddling surveillance camera!
Don’t worry though. The iron fist of Roger Goodell came down and gave Rice two whole games. Two! Ha! Take that! That’ll teach you to dehumanize women! You’re just lucky you weren’t holding a joint at the time too, or else it would have been a year!
But since this blog post is supposed to be expertly analyze football, let me get back on track. The Ravens are mediocre on both sides of the ball. Joe Flacco is like that lame friend you were friends with because he was the only kid on the block with a Sega Genesis. He’s only just good enough to stick around as a starter, uncorking some beautiful deep balls that completely make you forget the eight straight incompletions he threw before. This mediocrity is the Ravens in a nutshell. They’ll be good and competitive, but not enough to make a deep playoff run.
Johnny Manziel to watch: Johnny Manziel
The Browns are Johnny Manziel not as bad as people seem to Johnny Manziel think. They Johnny Manziel actually have an okay defense and they Johnny Manziel have an underrated offense that Johnny Manziel just needs a quarterback. Is Johnny Manziel the Johnny Manziel to answer their Johnny Manziel problems Johnny Manziel? Only Johnny Manziel time will Johnny Manziel tell Johnny Manziel.
Player to watch: Andy Dalton
Andy Dalton has a nickname given to him by Bengal fans: The Red Rifle. I volunteer another nickname: Terrible. Okay, maybe that’s too strong a word. But you have to admit that Dalton is a vast underachiever. Giving Andy Dalton the quarterback job on the Bengals is like giving the keys of a Ferrari to a person in the late stages of ALS. The Bengals are one of the most talented teams in the league, with arguably a top 5 defense, and they’ve been bounced out of the playoffs each year under Dalton. He just doesn’t have that ‘it’ factor to make deep playoff runs and by ‘it’ factor, I mean natural football talent. Look, his stats aren’t bad, but I could have decent stats if I was throwing to A.J. Green for 16 games.
Even with Andy Dalton Weasley as their quarterback, the division is so middling and the Bengals have so much talent around him that they should win the AFC North and make it back to the playoffs just to get eliminated again.
Player(s) to watch: Legarrette Blount and Le’Veon Bell
First, thank God Google exists to help me spell those two fucking names.
Secondly, these two players are part of the offseason game that NFL players like to play that’s called “How can we piss away our careers before the season even starts?” Legarrette and Le’Veon didn’t take steroids or punch their wives or poop on somebody’s front steps, but rather got caught rolling through town in their car with a nice fat blunt (haha, get it?). I can only assume at that moment that they were listening to the Grateful Dead and looking at fractal art, because that’s how potheads work, right?
So now these two running backs, who were going to be the two most important players in the Steelers’ running game, are now going to face some sort of suspension. This isn’t the best situation for a team that has some question marks and are thin at a lot of positions. The only silver lining that Pittsburgh can look at is that the North is a bit of a cupcake division, so they can maybe compete for a playoff spot at 8-8 or 9-7.
Even with Blount and Bell’s legal troubles, at least the Steelers don’t have to worry about having an alleged rapist on the team.
And now it’s time for me to put my predictions in stone. Here’s how the AFC is going to pan out:
1) Denver Broncos
2) New England Patriots
3) Indianapolis Colts
4) Cincinnati Bengals
5) Houston Texans
6) Pittsburgh Steelers
Stay tuned to this blog, as next weekend will bring the NFC edition of my 2014-2015 NFL Preview! So like, just sit here for a week or so, refreshing the page.