Oakland Raiders (4-12) - Previously: 32.
The Raiders are a mess. They had tons of needs and no cap room to fill them. And then they drafted a cornerback with a heart problem with the No. 12 pick even though some other front offices crossed him off their big board. My guess is that the gargoyles, zombies and goblins who used to be in Al Davis' employ took note of Hayden's awesome 40 time and forced the pick.
Jacksonville Jaguars (2-14) - Previously: 30.
It's sad that the 2013 NFL Draft changed nothing...
The good news: The Jaguars fired Gene Smith, who traded up for Blaine Gabbert and used a third-round pick on a punter.
The bad news: New general David Caldwell believes in building around Gabbert.
Well, at least the Jaguars have a nifty new logo.
Buffalo Bills (6-10) - Previously: 26.
Buffalo could have gone with Tavon Austin and then E.J. Manuel, or maybe even Tyler Eifert (via trade down) and Manuel. But no, the Bills are the Bills for a reason.
New York Jets (6-10) - Previously: 31.
New general manager John Idzik appears to be doing a good job. At the very least, he's not as bad as his predecessor. He's not giving truckloads of cash to mediocre quarterbacks or trading up for Big Ten plodders. So definitely an upgrade.
I liked the Geno Smith as a second-round pick, but I'm worried about him firing his agents because he wasn't the No. 1 pick. Isn't that a bit delusional? It'd be like if I hired an agent and then had the following conversation with him a month later...
Me: So, I've noticed that I don't have plans Friday night.
Agent: Hopefully you find something to do.
Me: You're missing the point. I want to know why I don't have a date with Alison Brie.
Agent: The chick from Community and Mad Men? I don't know, what does she have to do with anything?
Me: When I hired you, I was led to believe that I could date Alison Brie. That's it, you're fired!
Agent: Umm... OK, weirdo.
Cleveland Browns (5-11) - Previously: 22.
Eric Mangini and Michael Lombardi worked on other networks, but you have to wonder if the two ever grabbed a beer sometime and talked football. After all, Lombardi is using Mangini's strategy of switching defenses despite not having the personnel to fit that style. That's one side of the ball, and on the other side, we have an epic Jason Campbell-Brandon Weeden training camp battle. Only in Cleveland!
Tennessee Titans (6-10) - Previously: 29.
The Titans have definitely improved this offseason, but everything still rests on Jake Locker. Thus, I don't like Tennessee's chances very much, and I don't even know if the team can match its record from last year. How'd the Titans win six games anyway? Weren't they blown out by like 40 points eight times?
San Diego Chargers (7-9) - Previously: 28.
How were the Chargers 7-9 last year? It felt like they were 4-12. I'm just haunted by that Ray Rice 4th-and-29 bogus conversion that cost me hundreds of dollars. I'm still losing sleep over that.
By the way, I think the Chargers should sign Tim Tebow. It's a no-brainer because it's the best thing that could ever happen to Manti Te'o. With Tebow on the roster, the media will gawk at the hyped quarterback instead of Te'o, thus allowing the controversial linebacker to escape into anonymity.
Philadelphia Eagles (4-12) - Previously: 23.
So, the Eagles aren't going to run Chip Kelly's offense from Oregon, yet they still thought bringing in Kelly was a good idea. Yeah, that makes a ton of sense.
Kelly's arrogance isn't a good sign for this regime. Kelly apparently believes that he can win in the NFL like he did in college with quarterbacks who aren't regarded highly. That's cool, but that's not how the league works.
Arizona Cardinals (5-11) - Previously: 27.
I get the Cardinals being butthurt about not being able to land Luke Joeckel, Eric Fisher or Lane Johnson in the 2013 NFL Draft, but that's no reason to lie to their fans about their left tackle situation. Levi Brown and Bobby Massie are protecting the immobile Carson Palmer in a division comprised of Justin Smith, Aldson Smith, Cliff Avril, Bruce Irvin, Chris Long and Robert Quinn. Let that sink in.
Kansas City Chiefs (2-14) - Previously: 25.
Let's pretend I'm ESPN for a second. "OMG CHIEFS R GUNNA BE SO GOOD THEY HAVE ANDY REEID AND ALEX SMITH THEY ARE LIEK SO AWESOME OMG GUYS!" The worldwide leader, everyone.
The Chiefs will be competitive this season, but they're not going anywhere with this unbelievably overrated Reid-Smith combo.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-9) - Previously: 24.
I don't understand general manager Mark Dominik. It's like this...
"We're ready to win now, f*** yeah, we started the season 6-4!"
"No wait, we're building for the future, so why don't I trade Aqib Talib?"
"OK now that we traded Talib, we're ready to win now again, so I'm going hard to trade for Darrelle Revis!"
"No wait, we can't win anytime soon, so I'm going to let some key free agents walk despite having tons of cap space and then I'm going to draft a quarterback in the third round."
Make up your damn mind, Mark!
Detroit Lions (4-12) - Previously: 21.
All of this talk that Riley Reiff can't play left tackle has to really enrage the National Association of Men with Short Arms. I hear they're planning a protest right now.
In all seriousness, Matthew Stafford is toast. Sorry, NAMSA.
Dallas Cowboys (8-8) - Previously: 20.
What I wrote last update: Great in November, crappy in December, coaches do something stupid, Tony Romo struggles in biggest game, blah blah blah...
Silly me. I forgot something: Great in November, crappy in December, coaches do something stupid, Tony Romo struggles in biggest game, Jerry Jones f***s up the draft, blah blah blah...
Indianapolis Colts (11-5) - Previously: 17.
I hope that in 30 years we'll learn what really happened in the Erik Walden contract negotiation. I imagine it went something like this...
Ryan Grigson: We like you as a backup, Erik. We're prepared to give you $1 million this season and then we'll look into re-signing you next spring.
Erik Walden: You will give me a 4-year, $16 million contract.
Ryan Grigson: What? Why would I do that? No offense, but you kind of suck.
Erik Walden: Because I am one of Joe Carroll's followers. I have spent an inordinate amount of resources kidnapping your son even though I know nothing about you or your family; I want to be a deranged killer, but my precious Joe Carroll sent me on a mission that endangered my life just to steal your son away from you for reasons unknown to me. I just want to kill really, but Joe commanded me to do this task. I kidnapped Jake Delhomme's son as well. The point is that I have your son, so you will give me my desired contract.
Ryan Grigson: I don't even have a son, but I can tell you're serious. OK, $16 million it is.
Carolina Panthers (7-9) - Previously: 18.
What I wrote last time applies, though it is comforting that Carolina will actually be able to stop the run now...
The Panthers were awesome down the stretch, but if I were a fan of the team, I'd be concerned about how Cam Newton will play in the wake of losing offensive coordinator Rod Chudzinski to the Browns. The Chud was instrumental in his quarterback's development during the second half of this past season, and Newton doesn't seem like the kind of guy who would react well to change like this.
If Carolina gets off to a slow start, Newton could sullenly hold another press conference and get more people fired. Hopefully one guy who doesn't get axed is head coach Commander Adama. So say we all.
Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8) - Previously: 15.
I feel like the Steelers will be better without Mike Wallace. Addition by subtraction. Wallace was a terrible locker room presence and constantly screwed up on the field. Plus, he's a moron. If you didn't see his tweet in the wake of Jason Collins' announcement, here it is:
"All these beautiful women in the world and guys wanna mess with other guys SMH..."
So, according to Wallace, Collins chose to be gay. I wonder if Wallace chose to be black. Derp dee derp! Derp dee derpittee derpee derp!
Minnesota Vikings (10-6) - Previously: 14.
The Vikings selected three first-rounders in the 2013 NFL Draft, so they have to be better than they were last year, right? Well, I'm not so sure. Adrian Peterson, who once again should be outstanding, can't possibly match what he did in 2012. Antoine Winfield is gone, and who knows if Xavier Rhodes will be ready to replace him? And then there's Christian Ponder, who is not going to magically improve because he has Cordarrelle Patterson and Greg Jennings at his disposal.
Cincinnati Bengals (10-6) - Previously: 13.
Andy Dalton's record against non-playoff teams: 17-4
Andy Dalton's record against playoff teams: 1-11
Maybe Tyler Eifert and Giovani Bernard will help. The Bengals scored just 23 total points in their two recent playoff games, so Dalton needs all the help he can get.
Washington Redskins (10-6) - Previously: 16.
Follow the money. If you're wondering if Robert Griffin will be OK, that's all you have to do. Not only did ESPN schedule the Redskins for its opening Monday Night Football game, but the sportsbooks posted a spread having the Redskins as a six-point favorite. Those are two great signs if you're a Washington fan.
Miami Dolphins (7-9) - Previously: 12.
No one has been more critical of Miami's free agency spending spree like I have. Jeff Ireland sacrificed the future by overpaying bums like Mike Wallace and players at low-impact positions like Dannell Ellerbe. However, I really loved what the Dolphins did in the draft. Jamar Taylor was a steal in the second round, while climbing up for Dion Jordan will definitely help the team beat Tom Brady. I do wonder though if Miami is moving to a 3-4. Every single front-seven player is a better fit for the 3-4 than the 4-3.
Chicago Bears (10-6) - Previously: 9.
It would be fun to see what Jay Cutler could do with some protection. The Bears spent a ton of money in free agency on a left tackle and used a high draft pick on a guard, so things are looking good for Cutler, right? Well, maybe not. Jermon Bushrod was vastly overpaid, as he did not do a good job of protecting Drew Brees is New Orleans. Kyle Long, meanwhile, was a reach. He's pretty raw. In other words, Cutler will still be running for his life in 2013.
St. Louis Rams (7-8-1) - Previously: 11.
What I wrote prior to free agency:
The Rams quietly were pretty awesome down the stretch. Beginning in Week 12, they finished 4-2. They beat the 49ers (and tied them in Week 10) and nearly took down the red-hot Seahawks on the road at the very end. Their other loss came against the Vikings in a game in which Adrian Peterson went nuts. If St. Louis can fix its offensive line, it can become a big sleeper in 2013.
Well, St. Louis signed Jake Long and drafted Barrett Jones. They also added stud slot receiver Tavon Austin. This team is going to be very dangerous in 2013 as long as Sam Bradford doesn't totally suck.
Houston Texans (12-4) - Previously: 10.
The Texans were just 2-4 down the stretch in 2012 (including the playoffs), so is that a sign that they'll be worse this season? It might have been, but at long last, Houston obtained a capable No. 2 wideout across from Andre Johnson (DeAndre Hopkins) and signed a great blocking fullback to help Arian Foster. They'll also get Brian Cushing back from injury. They're still the favorite in the AFC South.
New York Giants (9-7) - Previously: 6.
Was Justin Pugh really higher than Sharrif Floyd on the Giants' big board? It was so weird to see Jerry Reese pass on a stud player who fell into his lap. Speaking of Pugh, by the way, a friend of mine was at a celebration of his for the draft. Pugh, an avid Eagles' fan, was apparently pretty livid that Philadelphia didn't select him No. 4 overall and vowed to get revenge. And here I thought Geno Smith was delusional...
Atlanta Falcons (13-3) - Previously: 5.
Atlanta lost John Abraham, Dunta Robinson, Tyson Clabo, Todd McClure and Brent Grimes this offseason. They'll be worse in 2013, but they won't take a big step down or anything because Steven Jackson will add an element to their offense that hasn't been there in a few years. I'm also a big fan of the Falcons' draft class.
Baltimore Ravens (10-6) - Previously: 19.
Man, I feel like an idiot. That's the last time I write off a Baltimore team as long as Ozzie Newsome is the general manager. Is it crazy to say that if the rookies pan out, this Raven squad is better than last year's version?
New Orleans Saints (7-9) - Previously: 7.
The Saints have their head coach back. They also have an improved defense. I like the Kenny Vaccaro and John Jenkins selections in the 2013 NFL Draft. It's pretty bogus though that New Orleans didn't have a second-rounder to keep bolstering its stop unit. You'd think suspending Sean Payton for a year would be enough of a punishment for Bountygate.
Green Bay Packers (11-5) - Previously: 8.
Every NFC North team's reaction during the second day of the NFL Draft: "Aaron Rodgers now has a running game!? Ah f***!"
New England Patriots (12-4) - Previously: 4.
Oh, so you don't think going from Wes Welker to Danny Amendola is much of a downgrade? Maybe it's not from a talent perspective, but just look how sad it made the Golden Boy to lose his favorite wideout:
Denver Broncos (13-3) - Previously: 3.
Denver was having a terrific offseason, getting Louis Vasquez, Wes Welker, Terrance Knighton and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie - until Faxgate. Losing Elvis Dumervil because of a fax machine was awful, but yet understandable. Who the hell knows how those things work? I have a contraption in my office that's a printer, scanner, copier and fax machine. I've used the first three functions, but I have no earthly idea how to fax anything. I've tried, but it was a futile attempt.
San Francisco 49ers (11-4-1) - Previously: 2.
I wish the 49ers would have turned some of their many picks into a star veteran like Darrelle Revis or Percy Harvin, or at least moved up for a stud prospect like Tavon Austin. San Francisco had a decent draft, but I still think that the Seahawks have passed them.
Seattle Seahawks (11-5) - Previously: 1.
I had the Seahawks as my No. 1 team before they acquired Percy Harvin, Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril. What an unbelievable offseason.
Unfortunately, Roger Goodell dicked over Seattle once again. Just check out what I wrote last time:
The Seahawks were the best team in the NFL this past season. The 49ers and Ravens are both pretty fortunate Roger Goodell screwed Seattle over by making them play a 1 p.m. game on the East Coast. Matvei, who used to handle the sharps' picks page of this Web site, sent me a text about it back in January:
These last 2 games are a great argument for no early starts for West teams. Seattle starts at 10, is asleep for 2.5 quarters, loses. Niners start at noon, sleep for the first quarter and a half, but eke out a win because the Falcons follow what would've been the worst blown playoff lead of all time with the third-worst. Their
leads seem an obvious product of the damn time zones.
OK, so what happened since? The NFL schedule was released, and the Seahawks were scheduled five 1 p.m. games on the East Coast! I'm not even a Seattle fan, but Goodell is a major douche. Why not slate those contests at 4 p.m.? Is it really that difficult?