NFC South Preview

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The 2008 season is loaded with changes with tons of questions of uNCertainty for each team’s philosophy in each position. For example: Can Julius Jones fit in with Seattle’s offensive system? Will Clinton Portis continue his stellar performance from 2007 season? Early indications are that he could and have an even bigger role under new head coach Jim Zorn, making Portis a stronger running back in 2008. How will rookie quarterback Matt Ryan adjust playing with the big boys?

Each team’s personnel changes will effect the weekly lines from Las Vegas early on in the season, and after week three we should get a pretty good barometer on what teams will be strong and what teams will be weak to wager on.

Let’s kick things off with a look at the AFC East, the division that the mighty New England Patriots call home. Strictly from a betting standpoint, you’d have to toss out the Pats. The -1200 price is simply too high for anyone in their right mind to lay. Having said that, in order to take a shot here it would have to be with the Jets or Bills and frankly, we don’t think either one is ready to challenge the Patriots. The GAp in talent is still too wide.

Odds quoted below are courtesy of the largest sportsbook in the world –


New England Patriots: Odds to win AFC East -1200

Head Coach: Bill Belichick (9th year)

Off. Coord: Josh McDaniels; Def. Coord: Dean Pees

2007 Record: SUR 18-1, Pointspread Record 10-9, O-U 12-7

2008 Prediction  11-5

The loss in the Super Bowl was just the beginning of a downfall as a superior orGAnization and as a team. The Patriots salary cap was extremely limited so they could not trade or draft good enough backups to rest the starters who are getting up in age especially on defense. Overall, this team still has a tremendous amount of talent for a run at the Super Bowl.

Offensively, even though helmsmen Tom Brady had a record 50 TD passes, the team was slowing down by the end of the season (failing to cover the spread in 7 of its last 8), as opponents became keen to the play-calling of young o.c. Josh McDaniels. This offensive line leads the best pass offense ever. O’Callaghan, Britt, Yates, & Hochstein provide depth. They used them all in ’07. They also added jOurneyman OT Oliver Ross. The tandem of RB LAureNCe Maroney and Sammy Morris should compliment their passing attack even further now that Maroney finally caught on to Belichick’s complex system.. Their wide outs will be missing WR Donte’ Stallworth (to Cleveland).

Defensively, it’s aging but knowing Belichicck; he will come with some sort of a revolving door particular for Mike Vrabel & Tedy BrUSChi. Unfortunately, their secondary took a substantial hit by losing 3 players. They still have three strong Defensive Ends.


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Buffalo Bills: Odds to win AFC East +800

Head Coach: Dick Jauron (3rd year)

Off. Coord: Turk SChonert; Def. Coord: Perry Fewell

2007 Record: SUR 7-9, Point Spread Record 9-6-1, O-U 7-9

2008 Prediction 9-7

The Buffalo Bills are an improving team in particular their offense. Buffalo ranked 30th in total offense and 31st in total defense in 2007, and they still managed a record of 7 and 9. To address the problems on both sides of the ball, they had a very fruitful draft and a couple of beneficial trades. Drafting James Hardy appears an inspired choice, as the tall Hoosier can create the red-zone mismatches and mUSCle for the third-down conversions the Bills often lacked a year ago. Troy McKelvin’s addition was imperative, as the Bills never quite addressed the loss of CB Nate Clements to S.F. last season and paid for it. By acquiring DT Marcus Stroud via trade from the Jags, Buffalo should at least be upgrading a DL that didn’t provide a proper return for LY’s big expenditures on DEs Aaron SChobel & Chris Kelsay.

On the Offensive Line, Peters & Dockery are a mean, mugging duo. Center is the weak link. If LAngston Walker keeps improving they will surprise. G Jason Whittle is the only good reserve. Quarterback Trent Edwards finally took the position away from J.P. Losman last December due to his intelligent decision making and his flamboyaNCy. The main vocal point of this offense is their ground attack spearheaded by Marshawn LyNCh. The stud RB from Cal posted impressive numbers as a rookie, rushing for 1,115 yards (11th in the NFL) and 7 TDs. LyNCh showed patieNCe, vision, and determination despite facing stacked boxes every Sunday. He missed 3 Games with a sprained ankle otherwise he goes for at least 1,300 yards.

With the return of injured linebacker Paul Posluszny, who missed 13 Games following a broken forearm, Buffalo’s defense should improve. The Bills have solid young players on defense in Donte Whitner, TerreNCe McGee and Angelo Crowell. And defensive end Aaron SChobel remains a solid pass rusher.


New York Jets: Odds to win AFC East +800

Head Coach: Eric Mangini (3rd year)

Off. Coord: B. SChottenheimer; Def. Coord: Bob Sutton

2007 Record: SUR 4-12, Pointspread Record 6-9-1, O-U 6-9-1

2008 Prediction 8-8

Whoever is under center will have a vastly improved Offensive Line. The defense will be much better through offseason acquisitions. Unfortunately for the Jets, they don’t

have a “real” quarterback to constantly lead them to post-season play on a yearly basis. Overall, they need more marquee players at key positions to realisticly contend for the AFC Crown.

Faneca’s signing was huge. He’ll make D’Brickashaw shine. Moore is an underrated guard. Woody is a good addition too. Depth? None. JOurneyman T Wayne Hunter is their best reserve. Thomas

Jones has probably peaked (he’ll be 30 in August) but he’s carved out a career as a durable, slashing runner. The Jets added two road-graders this offseason in LG Alan Faneca and RT Damien Woody. They’ll pay off in the 4th quarter when the yards get tougher. No other QB except maybe Rex Grossman gets as many do-overs as Pennington. Whether it’s injury or ineffectiveness, Pennington always keeps his job somehow.

This year, the club added some major help up front on defense and should be much improved. DT Kris Jenkins and OLBs Calvin Pace and Vernon Gholston (their first first-round pick) will add a new dimension to the club’s 3-4 scheme, replacing overrated talent Dewayne Robertson and injured LB Jonathan Vilma.


Miami Dolphins: Odds to win AFC East +1800

Head Coach: Tony Sparano (1st year)

Off. Coord: Dan Henning; Def. Coord: Paul Pasqualoni

2007 Record: SUR 1-15, Pointspread Record 5-9-2, O-U 9-7

2008 Prediction 4-12

Due to a pathetic 1 and 15 record, Miami had to revamp through mostly the draft. They went for a team that got bigger and tougher, using six of their nine picks this year on OLmen or DLmen, none of them undersized for his position.

Still Miami’s Left guard is a mess and will hurt the offense. Satele was a nice surprise last year. Carey might dazzle moving back to his natural RT. Should have traded up for T John Greco in the 3rd. John

was the 2007 MWC Offensive Player of the Year and ranked 2nd in the nation that year with a 169.1 QB rating. Beck is a modest 6’2/215 but will be a mature 27 when the season starts. In his 4 seasons at BYU, Beck improved his completion rate each season up to a 69.3% mark, just missing Steve Young’s 1983 team-record 70.0% clip. Ronnie was off to a huge start last year before tearing his ACL in week 7 vs. the Patriots. At the time of the injury (listen closely) he was leading *all* RBs with 991 total yards and on pace for a Faulk-like 2,200. Jeez. He was riding a 4-Game 100-yard streak and catching tons of passes… and was doing it on a winless, sorry football team.

Miami’s defense will undergo another facelift this offseason, likely going to a 3-4 look. New defenders like Jason Ferguson, rookie Phillip Merling, Reggie Torbor and Akin Ayodele join the club, but the team made minor moves in an attempt to improve its awful secondary. Adding to the team’s woes is ‘daNCing’ superstar Jason Taylor, who is at odds with the coaching staff and management over his role with the team. His preseNCe would mean a lot to this club’s success.

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