Tooooo damn funny!


Dec 15, 2004
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Lambeau Midwest
Arguing the AFC
Readers pick apart my latest conference predictions
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Kyle Boller's development is key to the
Ravens' chances of making the playoffs.

In the wake of my AFC picks on Monday (Jacksonville over Indy in the AFC South, the Jets and Ravens and Chiefs out of the playoffs, San Diego over everyone in the AFC West, New England over San Diego in the title game), the e-mail bag is full of people thinking I'm full of it.

So let's take the medicine.

From Julie of Baltimore: "Why no love for the Ravens? The offense is better with Mark Clayton and Derrick Mason. The defense is better with Samari Rolle and Dan Cody. They only finished a game out of the playoffs last year with a weaker team, and you don't think they're going to make the playoffs this year? What gives? Still not sold on Kyle Boller?''

I don't know how anyone can be sold on Boller yet. He hasn't achieved anything, though I still think he'll be OK. Not great, but a good NFL starter. You know why I didn't pick the Ravens -- or the Bengals, for that matter? Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Cincinnati are going to beat each other up this year, and only one of them is going to make the playoffs. I think the Steelers are the best of the three, though it wouldn't stun me if the Ravens or Bengals beat them out.

From Deepa Mukherjee of Troy, N.Y.: "I love your column. However, I am wondering how you managed to give the Jaguars the division title for 2005. The Colts defense played well towards the end of the season and their offense is incredible. The Jags defense is pretty darn good, but their offense needs help. They've changed their offensive coordinator, and it takes time for a team to get used to a new system. Their red-zone percentage traditionally has been low. They've allowed a lot more sacks than the Colts have. Besides, both teams this year have equally tough schedules. Jacksonville might make it to the wild-card spot, but winning the division seems a bit far-fetched at this point in time.''

Everything you say is true, Deepa. What I'm doing is trying to pick a team or two or three that has a chance to rise, and similarly teams that have a chance to fall. Did you think Pittsburgh would improve by nine wins last year? San Diego by eight? Atlanta by six? Or that Dallas would regress by four wins, Miami by six? This is a fluid league, a fluid game, and the easiest thing to do would be to pick Indianapolis and Philadelphia to stay right where they were last year, or maybe rise a little higher. Hey, they might meet in the Super Bowl. I like what the Jags did last year; I like how they improved in the offseason. I like the pass-rush pickup of Reggie Hayward from Denver in free agency. I like the chances rookie Khalif Barnes will play and excel sometime this year at tackle. I like former Arkansas QB Matt Jones, if he can stay on the field and be a matchup problem for opposing defenses at WR or TE. I am worried about running back Fred Taylor. As for Indy, I love what Tony Dungy and Bill Polian have tried to do on defense, but I'm still not convinced the linebackers and secondary are Super Bowl-ready. That's why I made this call.

From Jason Jarvis of Derwood, Md.: "Why do you think Eli Manning will have a good year? What have the Giants done to help him? Isn't their top receiver Amani Toomer? Their No. 2 Plaxico Burress? These are not constellations in the wide-receiver sky. Did you see improvement toward the end of last year? I don't have anything against Manning, I'm just curious why you'd say that. I imagine he will have another terrible to mediocre year.''

Maybe he will. Did you see the last three games last year? His deep threat was David Tyree down the stretch, a guy the Giants drafted to be a special-teamer and a fifth receiver, and he's trying to go deep on the Steelers and the Cowboys. In the last three games, with so few weapons, Manning completed 61 percent of his throws, evaded the rush very well (sacked three times in three games), had a 5-to-3 TD-to-pick ratio, and put 80 points on the board for a lousy offense. Say what you want about Burress, but he's a vast improvement over a skittish Ike Hilliard. At the end of this year, Manning will be in the top 10 or 12 on the QB-rating list and well respected as a complete player.

From Frank Foster of Columbus, Ohio: "I saw bits and pieces of The Longest Yard this weekend. The movie was horrible, but you did a nice job. I hope this acting thing doesn't take off because I really enjoy MMQB.''

Thanks, Frank. Those were my nine seconds of fame right there.

From Mike Geier of Pittsburgh: "I've got a Sirius radio and have the ability to listen to all of the NFL games with each team's local game callers. I know there's no one like the great Myron 'Mahrn' Cope, but what other radio teams should I try to catch when the season starts up?''

Good question. Very good. I love Brad Sham and Babe Laufenberg in Dallas. You won't hear a more even-handed, well-detailed game broadcast than the one Sham engineers. I like listening to Sonny Jurgensen tell it like it is in Washington. Merrill Reese is excitable and very detailed in Philly. Jeff Lageman is a very good color man in Jacksonville -- some day he'll be a star in this business. I always learn something listening to Lageman. You've got to check him out. Bob Papa's a top play-by-play guy with the Giants. Those are a few guys I like to listen to on the road. But I have a soft spot for Cope and one of the best young analysts in the game, Tunch Ilkin, on the Steelers network. Funny, witty, irreverent when needed, excited when the Steelers are excelling.

From Matt of Mankato, Minn.: "Now that you have the participants for the Super Bowl decided, who is your pick to win? Being a diehard Vikings fan, I would love to see them break the 0-for-4 slump they are in! SKOL VIKINGS!''

That suspense will be broken in next week's column, Matt.


Great stuff - especially coming from Peter King.
Another guy who won't review (too often) what he claimed to be spiritual last year!
Ya notice he mentions Teams from both Divisions when it comes to Commentators...
Just doesn't like our Packers for some reason! Go figure!

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