The People News, a free newspaper serving Cleveland Tennessee (TN) and Bradley County Tennessee (Tn).

Of Bradley County Tn.


                            The People News, a free newspaper serving Cleveland and Bradley County Tn.







2004 NFL Preview

The Miami Dolphins were my pick in the AFC East until Ricky Williams decided to call it a career.  Waiting until August to announce it was very shallow on his part and will cost Miami a playoff berth and Dave Wannstedt his job.  Look for the Patriots to repeat in the East but not as Super Bowl champs.  Newly added RB Corey Dillon should take the heat off of QB Tom Brady this year but the Pats will be defeated in the divisional playoffs this year.  The Jets will make a strong push for the division and a wild card spot.

The AFC North will be won on defense, either being Pittsburgh or Baltimore.  If

Pittsburgh re-establishes their running game and their corners not allow 300+ yards in the air, they will win, if not the Ravens repeat.  Jamal Lewis must control the clock by providing 30-carry games or the heat will be on their unproven QB Kyle Boller.

The Bengals are making a huge mistake throwing Carson Palmer into the fire this early.  Jon Kitna had a breakout season and should not ride the pine.  Rudi Johnson was a one shot wonder and will be a forgotten name by this December.

Peyton Manning
"Eye on Super Bowl"

Jerry Keys

The Colts are primed and ready.  They should have went to the Bowl last year but fell a game short.  Contracts are up for Marvin Harrison and Edgerrin James so it is a do-or-die year for them.  They must have home field advantage against Kansas City or they may fall short again.

The Chiefs will actually have a defense this year, thanks to the return of defensive guru Gunther Cunningham.  With their high-octane offense, all their D has to do is be respectable, middle-of-the-pack.  If their D shows up this year, Indy's Super Bowl hopes may be in jeopardy.  They should meet the Colts in the AFC title game and whoever has home field will most likely go to the Bowl.

Denver will enter the playoffs again but just do not have the necessary weapons to advance past the divisional games.  If their running game struggles, QB Jake Plummer will be relied upon and as shown in his playoff collapse last year, is not as reliable as once thought.

The NFC East will be a dogfight between two legends and a Philly coach who is under the gun.  Joe Gibbs is back in DC and Bill Parcells just changed addresses since their historic battles in the 1980's and early 90's.  If Clinton Portis repeats last year's performance and Washington's QB controversy is settled, they should win the East.

Eagles head coach Andy Reid is under the microscope this year, following three straight NFC Championship game losses.  They will not return this year.  They will be a playoff caliber team but will be defeated in the first round.  Dallas pulled off a miracle season last year but was very lucky in doing so.  They will not be that lucky in 2004.  QB Vinny Testaverde fits perfectly into Parcell's offensive schemes but they will lose three of the four games against Washington and Philadelphia, dooming them to a .500 season.

The NFC North is the most wide-open division in the NFL.  Green Bay should repeat but will get a strong push from the Minnesota Vikings, who were knocked out of the playoffs last year in the final week by lowly Arizona.  Detroit is on the upswing and just may make some noise this year.

The NFC South is Carolina's to lose.  New Orleans and Atlanta have gaping holes in their defense and have questions on the offense.  If Michael Vick stays healthy and learns the West Coast offense, Atlanta may sneak into the playoffs. 

Seattle is ready to go this year.  For three years I picked them to have their breakout year.  That finally happened last year with a trip to the playoffs.  Mike Holmgren has two Super Bowl trips under his belt and should get the third this year.  QB Matt Hasselbeck now has the experience needed to thrive in the playoffs.

San Francisco will collapse from within in 2004.  Tim Rattay will have everything on his shoulders with a porous running attack and shaky receivers.  Their defense will do their part early on but will crumble as the season wears on.  St. Louis will suffer the same fate they did two years ago; they will lose the close games.  QB Marc Bulger will see more pressure and cannot rely on Marshall Faulk as much since he has lost a step.  Bulger will have his 300-yard passing days but with no running attack, simple blanket coverage by defenses, and a suspect defense with the departure of defensive guru Lovie Smith, a playoff appearance does not seem likely. 

The teams to watch this year are Detroit and Arizona.  Detroit just may steal the NFC North but in reality, will just turn the heat up on the two front-runners.  QB Joey Harrington and coach Steve Mariucci have slowly turned around a woeful franchise.  They will be serious contenders in '05.

Arizona has a proven winner in head coach Dennis Green and will begin to move in a positive direction.

Joe Gibbs
"Can he return Washington to the
Super Bowl?"

Brett Favre
"Brett says it's now or never"

No one player stands out but I just have a feeling they will surprise a lot of people this year.  In a weakened NFC West, they will not post an 0-6 division mark.

The QB controversy in New York is overblown.  The Giants would have serious thought problems if they throw Eli Manning to the dogs this year.  He needs a year of observation under Kurt Warner.  "If" Warner gets the starting nod and Ron Dayne fulfills the promise he showed some five years ago, the Giants are a .500 team immediately.  Anyone who thinks Warner is done, is mistaken.  If they throw Eli out, the Giants will win 3 or 4 games. 

Keep an eye on the teams I selected to just miss the playoffs.  A starting QB for a playoff team may be out for the season or the premier RB tear his ACL, and that team goes from a division winner to a sub-.500 team very quickly.  That opens the door for one of the borderline teams to sneak in.  Of the last 10 Super Bowl teams, 6 were teams thought to have losing records the year they went.