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Cris Carter: Giants in the Playoffs?!


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This one's for you Tom:


A better tomorrow?

by Cris Carter, Yahoo! Sports

June 17, 2004

Much of your recent mail focused on the Cleveland Browns releasing Tim Couch. As expected, the Green Bay Packers signed Couch this week, and he seems eager to learn a new offense behind Brett Favre.

But readers also have been asking about their team's chances for a big turnaround season. There are a couple of teams that I see ready to make a dramatic improvement, but it's too early to tell whether that will result in a playoff run.

Watch out for the Arizona Cardinals and new coach Dennis Green. He always brings a lot of energy and has turned around every program he's been associated with. Adding Larry Fitzgerald to an already exciting offense is also going to help. And look for a veteran-oriented New York Giants team with Kurt Warner at the helm to possibly make a run at the playoffs.

There are some other teams that fans hope will rebound this season. But remember, it shouldn't always be "Ask Cris." Feel free to include your own opinions on any of my recent columns and audio/video segments, and we'll try to print the best of them in future mailbags. And you get bonus points for including your hometown.

Now on to your letters. My responses are in italics…

As a San Diego Chargers fan, I keep hoping to read some good news, somewhere, that the Chargers are making moves to actually be a better team this year than last. I either don't know where to look, or there simply is no news of improvement for the Chargers. What is the inside info on whether the Chargers will be better this year?


One challenge that the Chargers face is that they play in the tough AFC West. But overall, San Diego has improved. Management had been looking for a franchise quarterback and it found one in Philip Rivers. The Chargers may be young, but with their additional draft picks they managed to add some more depth.

I believe Rivers will give the fans plenty to cheer about. Success may not come as early as this season, but his second, third and fourth seasons should be good ones.

If fans aren't pleased with the Chargers' offseason, all they have to do is look at tailback LaDainian Tomlinson as a good pick-up. He is probably the best all-around running back in the NFL.


Do you think the Detroit Lions have enough talent to move forward this year, or is the problem in Detroit the quarterback? I have read some reports saying that Joey Harrington must progress this year. What do you think?

Russ Meyers

I believe Harrington will progress in his third year. And it sure helps that the Lions have added some talent around him. The combination of rookie Roy Williams and second-year player Charles Rogers at receiver should be great. Rogers is back healthy this season and ready to prove his worth. Also adding value is rookie running back Kevin Jones from Virginia Tech who should undoubtedly make Harrington a lot better. After moving kind of sideways the last three years, I believe the Lions are heading in the right direction.


With all the problems the Oakland Raiders have fixed this year, is it possible they can beat out the AFC's top teams and reach the Super Bowl?

Jose Diaz

I don't know if Oakland is a Super Bowl team like they were a couple of years ago. But the Raiders are much improved with a whole new look on defense. Look at the beef of their D in the middle with Ted Washington and Warren Sapp. Those guys bring a great attitude.

But on offense, the Raiders need to establish a running game and a deep-threat wide receiver. They have improved, but as far as the Super Bowl is concerned, I think they're still several years away.

The AFC is a tough division to compete in. It's not always the best division talent-wise from top to bottom, but it is hard week-to-week. The best games that the Raiders play will be against divisional opponents.


I may be the only one, but I have a small amount of excitement for the upcoming San Francisco 49ers season.…Maybe they will be a losing team, but I think they'll show a lot of promise with these young receivers. At the very least, they'll be exciting to watch, regardless of whose slinging the ball to them. What do you think?

Andrew Davidson

I think the 49ers have taken a few steps backward. You simply can't replace Terrell Owens very easily. San Francisco will go through the same thing it did when Jerry Rice left, but I believe this time it will be harder – there is no player like Owens to make all those catches. When Rice left, it took some time for Owens to develop into the go-to receiver. I believe it will take even longer during this transition.

Andrew, you are a faithful and true fan, but it is going to be a while before the 49ers get back to playing the football you might be used to seeing.


The New York Jets took a tumble last year, but I blame their poor record on injuries. Can they make a return to the playoffs this season if everyone stays healthy?

Walter Brenman

Well, it's going to be awfully tough. What the Jets must do is keep Chad Pennington healthy and get Curtis Martin the football. Martin should get at least 25 touches a game. If they are able to do that, they may surprise some people and get into the playoffs.

That said, the Jets are facing some tough competition in the AFC East. The defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots got better, Miami has always been a tough opponent, and I believe Buffalo won't be an easy challenge. Every team in the division has improved. And as it always happens for teams in the AFC East, playoff berths will be decided in Weeks 15, 16 and 17.

That's it for now. Thanks for your feedback, everyone. Keep it coming.

Cris Carter is Yahoo! Sports' NFL analyst. Send him a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.

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