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Six NFL teams unlikely to make playoff returns in '08


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Six NFL teams unlikely to make playoff returns in '08

In the first part of a three-part series, Mike Florio identifies six teams that aren't likely to return to the playoffs this season after making it in 2007:

Of the 12 teams that qualify for the playoffs each year, roughly six of them don't make it back the following season. Last year, for example, the Ravens, Chiefs, Jets, Bears, Saints and Eagles didn't get back to the postseason after making it in 2006. (Taking their places were the Steelers, Jaguars, Titans, Redskins, Packers and Buccaneers.)

So the challenge for those of us who pretend we know more about how a given NFL season will turn out than the average fan is to try to identify the half-dozen teams from the 2007 postseason field that won't return, and the half-dozen teams that will replace them.

And because the challenge for those of us who have to come up with two columns per week as part of a side gig with SportingNews.com includes doing so during the slow weeks of the NFL calendar, this idea has the makings of a trilogy.

In the first installment, I'll try to nail down the six playoff teams that won't get back to the postseason. Later in the week, I'll predict (guess) six that won't take their places. Finally, I'll take a stab at identifying the six that will.

Without further ado, my six picks not to return to the playoffs.

1. Pittsburgh Steelers The Steelers of the free-agency era have developed a trend of exceeding low expectations and failing to meet high ones. In 2006, the Super Bowl champs didn't make it back to play in January. A year ago, with no one expecting much from a team breaking in only its third head coach in nearly 40 years, the Steelers won the division.

This year, expectations are high again -- especially with the Bengals imploding, the Ravens rebuilding, and the Browns generally regarded as overrated. In other words, the stage is set for the Steelers to fail.

If they do, it will happen because of an offensive line that got much worse after the departure of left guard Alan Faneca. Although the team used its first two draft picks on high-profile skill-position players (Rashard Mendenhall and Limas Sweed), these rookies won't make much of an impact with no one to block for them. The defensive line received no real upgrade despite the team's desire to do so, and the linebackers and defensive backs are getting older but not necessarily better.

In all, six of 11 starters on defense will be 30 or older by the end of September. That's not a good sign for a team that will need strong performances from the traditional strength of the franchise to prop up an offense that might not score points in bunches.

2. Tennessee Titans The Titans are the most likely '07 playoff team not to get back to the postseason. They snuck in last year because of, in part, a decision by Colts coach Tony Dungy not to contest to the wire a Week 17 game against the Titans that allowed them to secure a berth. And Tennessee has not done much to improve, despite having plenty of money to spend in free agency.

Quarterback Vince Young regressed just enough in his second season to get offensive coordinator Norm Chow fired. The move drew instant comparisons to the previous situation with Falcons quarterback Michael Vick, whose flaws as a passer were masked some by the franchise's efforts to identify a continual string of scapegoats.

Although Mike Heimerdinger brings a new offense to Tennessee, Young hasn't gotten much help on the field. At least having Vick's former favorite target, Alge Crumpler, around will be helpful, especially because the receiving corps is mediocre and no effort was made to improve it.

In an ultra-competitive AFC South, with a high-quality Colts squad, an ascending Jaguars franchise and an improving Texans team, one of the four teams has to land in the basement.

And that team very well could be the Titans.

3. Washington Redskins The Redskins rallied late in '07, coming together as a cohesive unit after the tragic death of safety Sean Taylor. They unexpectedly qualified for the playoffs, sneaking in as the sixth seed and nearly shocking the Seahawks in the wild-card round.

But then came the unexpected retirement of coach Joe Gibbs, followed by the curious decision to hire Seattle quarterbacks coach Jim Zorn as the offensive coordinator, and then to promote him to head coach. Zorn very well might become a great head coach, but it's a tall order to expect him to navigate a competitive NFC East and get back to the postseason.

The Redskins would have been wise to give the gig to defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who is now with the Jaguars. In a league where continuity means more than ever before, making the next coach a guy with whom the players were familiar would have been the best way to get a roster that hasn't seen much offseason overhaul (for a change) back into the playoffs.

4. Green Bay Packers The departure of quarterback Brett Favre creates a huge void at the most important position on the field. If the Packers truly believed Aaron Rodgers will be the answer, they wouldn't have drafted Brian Brohm. Or Matt Flynn. Or both of them.

Although the Packers have a solid young team that showed real improvement as the '07 season unfolded, the retirement of Favre and the memories of a deflating overtime loss in the NFC title game will make it hard for Green Bay to separate from the pack in '08. That will create an opening for a team such as the Vikings to swipe the division title.

5. Seattle Seahawks With coach Mike Holmgren entering his final year on the sideline and the team's next head coach (Jim Mora) already working in the building, there's a strange vibe coming out of Seattle. Shaun Alexander, the league MVP in 2005, is long gone, and the hole in the left side of the line that was created by the departure of Steve Hutchinson in 2006 is still there.

The rest of the team seems stagnant, in a division with three other squads that could be getting better. If only one of them delivers, the Seahawks will lose their hold on the NFC West.

6. New York Giants Yeah, this is the shocker. How could the team that won the Super Bowl not make the playoffs?

Well, the Giants previously won the Super Bowl in 1986 and in 1990. In both instances, they didn't qualify for the playoffs the next season.

Sure, the organization has changed dramatically in the 17 years since that last happened. But the point is, it's not unprecedented for a team to win it all, and then to struggle the next time around.

The Giants got hot at the right time and stayed hot all the way through the Super Bowl. That's a far cry from starting over with no wins and no losses -- especially when they'll have a huge bull's-eye on their backs come September.

The pressure will be high, and the potential for dysfunction is still present. If the Giants stumble, and the media swarms and guys such as Michael Strahan, Jeremy Shockey, Plaxico Burress begin to pop off, and Eli pulls his Manning-sized head back into its shell, the outcome in '08 could be far different from what it was in '07.

Mike Florio writes and edits ProFootballTalk.com and is a regular contributor to Sporting News.

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Great logic, when making predictions on what will happen in the upcoming season it's always best to go back 17 years when the vast majority of the current roster was probably not even in high school at the time, instead of examining recent history and realizing the Giants have made the playoffs the last 3 consecutive seasons.

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ProFootballTalk's Mike Florio and the giant stick up his ass

Stampedeblue_tiny by BigBlueShoe on Jun 3, 2006 9:49 PM EDT in News

http://www.stampedeblue.com/story/2006/6/3/214952/2809

I've often linked to Mike Florio's ProFootballTalk.com because of the entertainment value he provides. Despite the fact that he is a shameless self promoter, deals only in speculative rumor, and has an annoying way of posting Sprint adds in his content, Mike will often write some funny nuggets. These nuggets must always be taken with a grain of salt as Mike has a nasty habit of quoting unnamed sources that provide him "insider information" on teams. He also has a habit of stating rumors as fact, which is a big no-no if you want to be considered a serious journalist.

However, it seems Mike does not care to be taken seriously. The check he receives from Sprint (his site sponsor) is enough for him. I enjoy Mike's site. It is often very funny. The one thing he could do without is the snarky comments that, oftentimes, misinform rather than inform. Like this one:

The Colts have signed QB Shaun King, who seven years ago got a Tony Dungy-coached team closer to the Super Bowl than Peyton Manning ever has.

Ah yes, another Peyton Manning-basher trying to sound witty and cute. Alas, Mike's comment is neither because his statement about Shaun King isn't true. Tony Dungy coached Peyton Manning and the Colts in the AFC Championship game in 2004. Tony Dungy also coached Shaun King and the Tampa Bay Bucs in the NFC Championship game in 2000. So, unless Mike ranks the NFC Championship as "getting closer to the Super Bowl" than the AFC Championship, I'd say Mike doesn't know his facts.

Then again, facts are what journalists deal in, and Mike doesn't want to be confused with that. He deals in rumor, and enjoys spending his Sprint checks on lunch for his unnamed "league sources."

For Mike, we offer this advice: if you are trying to be witty and cute, it helps to actually know what you are talking about. When the witty and cute comment is not even factually correct, it kind of makes you look like a schmuck with a giant stick up your ass.

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Well if we deal in trends of history then we already know who will win the Superbowl this year......................THE WASHINGTON REDSKINS!!!

I love my Skins, but the ONLY reason I say this is because the last two times the G-men won a Lombardi the Skins won it the next year, not to be confused with the Eagles who have never won a Lombardi.

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I've already laid down some cash on the Giants not making the playoffs this year.

No one remembers that Eli Manning led the league in turnovers last year. He had a great three-game run. Congratulations. Next year, he'll be back to fumbling and throwing interceptions at the worst time, because he's Eli.

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Lets see. The guy who post this says that the Redskins won't make it but the Cowboys will. Oh, Wait! He is a Cowboy fan. Imagine that. This post is stupid because anything can happen especially the injury bug and the partial reinstatement of Pacman Jones. When you become a resident expert and some factual statistics then post it. Until then your predictions are as good as the Weatherman's. Just another guess.

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I love my Skins, but the ONLY reason I say this is because the last two times the G-men won a Lombardi the Skins won it the next year, not to be confused with the Eagles who have never won a Lombardi.

:laugh: Gotta love the completely unrelated Iggles jab. Priceless!

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Im not going to lie; I cant wait for this season to start so that every reason we win wont be because of Sean's passing. I love the man like the rest of us and he was a factor but we played as a team and did great things as a team.

I agree. I hated the fact that we were supposedly only winning because of ST's passing. I absoulutely agree that emotions caused us to want to win but regardless of the emotions, if we weren't a good team, we wouldn't be able to make the playoffs.

On a side note, BigMike, I like you better when we don't agree. I've gotta stop agreeing with you ASAP!:laugh:

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I've already laid down some cash on the Giants not making the playoffs this year.

No one remembers that Eli Manning led the league in turnovers last year. He had a great three-game run. Congratulations. Next year, he'll be back to fumbling and throwing interceptions at the worst time, because he's Eli.

Your statement would make more sense had you at least said "5 game run".

Patriots - week 16

Tampa - Wildcard

Dallas - Divisional

Green Bay - NFC Championship

Patriots - Super Bowl

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Your statement would make more sense had you at least said "5 game run".

Patriots - week 16

Tampa - Wildcard

Dallas - Divisional

Green Bay - NFC Championship

Patriots - Super Bowl

Eli did not win the SB. The defense line did. As a matter of fact, take away David Tyree's catch and what happened that drive, and then look at his numbers.

I am not saying Elisha will be great or back to normal, but what I am saying is he was not the main reason they won. Actually he was not even the 2nd reason why they won.

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Eli did not win the SB. The defense line did. As a matter of fact, take away David Tyree's catch and what happened that drive, and then look at his numbers.

I am not saying Elisha will be great or back to normal, but what I am saying is he was not the main reason they won. Actually he was not even the 2nd reason why they won.

I hate when people say "Take away" this....etc.

How about, take away the perfect pass that bounced off Steve Smith's chest and was picked off in the redzone. Then Eli more than likely has 3 TD's and 0 INT's as opposed to 2 TD's and 1 Int.

You can manipulate stats however you'd like. Face it, Eli is a champ and a SB MVP.

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Not sure why the Redskins missing the playoffs in 2008 would be that much of a suprise. I mean either would them making the playoffs, but today's NFL is very streaky. The Redskins got in during 2005 & 2007 because they got hot at the right time, December. Those were trademarks of Joe Gibbs coached teams. Whether you Like his "offensive scheme" or not the fact is Gibbs teams usually would play their best football in December and it shows when two of his last four years, he coached a .500 club through November, but got the team to play their guts out in December and earn a playoff spot.

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Saying the Giants won't make it is hardly a shocker.

SB Champ Playoff Curse Victims:

1998 Broncos (6-10 in '99)

2001 Patriots (9-7 in '02)

2002 Buccaneers (7-9 in '03)

2005 Steelers (8-8 in '06)

Honorable Mentions:

1999 Rams (10-6, wild card loss in 2000)

2004 Patriots (10-6, barely made it in '05)

2006 Colts (one and done in '07)

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Your statement would make more sense had you at least said "5 game run".

Patriots - week 16

Tampa - Wildcard

Dallas - Divisional

Green Bay - NFC Championship

Patriots - Super Bowl

I'd agree. The reason the Giants won it all was that Eli stopped being Eli at the end of the year. (That and the fact that they had one heck of a pass rush.)

(I'm still ticked at them because that pass rush didn't show up until after they'd played Dallas.)

But still, I think a lot of folks don't give the Giants D enough credit.

If they've still got that D, and if Eli stays perfect, then they're unbeatable. But it's an "if".

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This thread reminds me of this GIANT size helping of crow...As a Giants fan, you kind of get used to this. And its great cause I know it will make them dominate.

Bill Barnwell: New York Giants. When I think about this upcoming Giants season, my heart hurts in the way it does when you think of ex-girlfriends sleeping with new people. Many new people. At the same time. While she reassures them all how much better they are in bed than you. Oh, and she does this all in the next room over from you while you’re trying to sleep. And then makes the whole group breakfast afterwards, your favorite breakfast, too, and throws out the last helping as you go to grab some. It’s like that, except it’s going to happen for about 17 consecutive weekends. It astounds me that some people still think this team has a chance of being competitive in 2007.

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I'd agree. The reason the Giants won it all was that Eli stopped being Eli at the end of the year. (That and the fact that they had one heck of a pass rush.)

(I'm still ticked at them because that pass rush didn't show up until after they'd played Dallas.)

But still, I think a lot of folks don't give the Giants D enough credit.

If they've still got that D, and if Eli stays perfect, then they're unbeatable. But it's an "if".

By perfect do you mean throwing balls that hit cornerbacks in the chest but are dropped? Or do you mean chucking up a prayer to have it answered by David Tyree's helmet? Clarify, please.

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I'd agree. The reason the Giants won it all was that Eli stopped being Eli at the end of the year. (That and the fact that they had one heck of a pass rush.)

(I'm still ticked at them because that pass rush didn't show up until after they'd played Dallas.)

But still, I think a lot of folks don't give the Giants D enough credit.

If they've still got that D, and if Eli stays perfect, then they're unbeatable. But it's an "if".

I actually think that Ahmad Bradshaw does not get enough credit...the Giants may not have won the Bills game without him. They lost the following game against the Patriots, and he didn't suit up, and they won the next 4 games, with big contributions from Bradshaw.

I just think he's the guy that put the Giants over the top, especially against the run defenses they faced.

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By perfect do you mean throwing balls that hit cornerbacks in the chest but are dropped? Or do you mean chucking up a prayer to have it answered by David Tyree's helmet? Clarify, please.

He hit the cornerback in the chest? He threw it to Tyree's helmet? Maybe you should clarify?

Every good QB gets a little lucky, and they get a little unlucky as well, like when Manning's lone interception came from a pass that bounced off of Steve Smith's hands on a drive where they were close to scoring.

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The Packers will be back in the playoffs.

Aaron Rodgers is going to shock the NFL in 2008.

When he stepped in for Favre against the Cowboys(?) in 2007, he showed great potential, speed, rhythm and skill.

I think the Packers are going to be just fine with Rodgers, not to mention that their division isn't exactly difficult to compete in.

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The Packers will be back in the playoffs.

Aaron Rodgers is going to shock the NFL in 2008.

When he stepped in for Favre against the Cowboys(?) in 2007, he showed great potential, speed, rhythm and skill.

I think the Packers are going to be just fine with Rodgers, not to mention that their division isn't exactly difficult to compete in.

Actually I think that division isn't as bad as people perceive. The Bears still are stout on D and always come to play and the Vikes' passing game can only get better. I don't think the Pack will finish on top on that division again.

How did Tampa not make this list?

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