Being a football fan takes a lot of faith and dedication. You have to trust that every decision your team makes will work out in the end, that every draft pick will be a break-out star right out of the box, and that your team’s front office is run by a gang of OCD football gurus with a lot of money.
Eventually you see through all of that blind faith and end up becoming just another tortured football fan that knows more than the coaches and owners and “would totally lead their team to a Super Bowl victory if he ran the team.” I’m still waiting to hear back on my GM job applications. To those fans, welcome to my 2014 season preview of NFL teams that you love, hate to love, and love to hate. Asinine Analysis is here to give some fans hope and other fans a face mask penalty back into reality.
Our first targets: the teams of the AFC East.
Record: 6-10. It may not be a playoff contendion record, or even a .500 record, but at least the Bills didn’t get worse. Last year they were also 6-10. The year before that? 6-10. The 2011 season? 6-10. With EJ Manuel heading up an offense that still can’t decide who their #1 running back is and a fresh rookie #1 receiver to try and throw to, another 6-10 finish seems probable.
The Good: Sammy Watkins is all the rage this year, which shows just how crazy and desperate Bills fans are these days.Watkins is an amazing talent but, without a quarterback that can get the ball to him, Watkins will probably end up looking like a cleaner-cut Steve Johnson this season. We’re talking about a fan-base that was so much in love with a bearded Harvard grad that they gave him a starting quarterback position and his own theme song. Last year, Kiko Alonso was all the rage after the C.J. Spiller fad fell flat. And don’t expect any Bills fan to admit that Marshawn Lynch exists, just like they wrote off dragons, unicorns, and the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
The Bad: The Bills seem to be in a never-ending rebuilding year. It’s as if they pick up one star player each season to fill a hole, and don’t make another move until the next. It’s a careful approach to building a team, but by the time they fill out their offense, all the players on their #10-ranked defense will be collecting pension checks.
The Ugly: If Jon Bon Jovi and friends end up with the winning bid for the Buffalo Bills, they just may leave the Bills in Buffalo like they have promised. Unfortunately, we haven’t heard any promises that the Bills touchdown song based around the hit “Shout” by The Isley Brothers will be given the same respect. Potential replacements include “Livin’ On a Prayer,” “Bad Medicine,” or “Lay Your Hands On Me” to give Bills fans a chance to celebrate a touchdown for six minutes since they probably won’t celebrate another one for the rest of the game.
Record: 8-8. It’s a far cry from the perfect season of the 1972 Miami Dolphins, but it’s as close to a winning season as the team has had in the past five years. But you can’t expect Tom Brady to have a knee injury every year. You have to do some work.
The Good: The Dolphins seem to have all the pieces in the right spots for a balanced, legitimate team. That’s the problem. Balanced teams are useless in this age of football. You need to overload on one offensive scheme, passing or running, and build your defense accordingly
The Bad: Mike Wallace seems to have retired from football already. Once again, another NFL team learns the ugly truth: if the Steelers don’t want a player back, he probably shouldn’t be wanted. We’ll see if this theory holds strong as Emmanuel Sanders has left Pittsburgh for Denver. For now, Brian Hartline is still the #1 receiver, like he always ends up being by the process of elimination.
The Ugly: Thanks to Richie Incognito not being too incognito in his harassment of rookie offensive lineman Jonathan Martin last year, hazing seems to have been abolished from the Dolphins’ training camp. This means that while rookies on other teams will be featuring the best haircuts that a 300-pound man can give using a utility knife, rookies in Miami will be hazed with hugs, cheers of support, and homemade apple pies baked by coach Joe Philbin. It’s as if South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone could see into the future of the Dolphins when they wrote the “Sarcastaball” episode.
New England Patriots
Record: 12-4. This is the yearly expected record of the New England Patriots because the rest of the division is pretty weak and can lead to six wins right off the top. It is this expectation that makes the Patriots’ playoff record the only thing that matters, and last year was a failure that gave us ammunition for some more Sad Tom Brady picture captions.
The Good: Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are still on the Patriots, which makes the team just good enough to annoy opponents no matter who else is on the team. Now the Patriots shore up their secondary and the hatred Jets fans have for the team by signing Darrelle Revis at cornerback. Oh, and if that’s not enough, Rob Gronkowski may actually play the first game of the season. So yeah, there’s a lot of good if you’re a Patriots fan.
The Bad: The Patriots are getting old. Tom Brady has to be about 60 in football years, Bill Belichick seems to be golfing more than usual, and everyone is getting hurt. The players may survive through the season, but I won’t be surprised if the only starter left by the wild card round is Shane Vereen.
The Ugly: When Tom Brady finally retires, Bill Belichick is going to be right behind him, giving in his walking papers. When that happens, the Patriots will be so bad that owner Bob Kraft will finally be allowed to move his team to London, while the rest of the AFC East holds Super Bowl-esque parades in their home cities. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Bills, Dolphins, and Jets get together for a rendition of “Ding-Dong! The Witch is Dead.”
New York Jets
Record: 8-8. Considering that everyone had written off the New York Jets as a 1-15 team at the beginning of the 2013 season, 8-8 is pretty respectable. They were even mathematically in the playoffs for a second.
The Good: Eric Decker has arrived in New York, which means one important thing: Eric Decker’s wife has also arrived in New York. This will make Jets games must-watch TV as cameramen will probably spend as much time focused on what Jessie James is wearing in the stands as the actual game. There is also some potential for Geno Smith to come out of his shell with Decker as a receiver, Chris Johnson at running back, Stephen Hill showing improvement, and Rex Ryan keeping his mouth shut… for the most part.
The Bad: The Jets signed Michael Vick in order to fulfill their mandatory dumb-ass move of the off-season. It doesn’t show much faith in Geno Smith when your team pays more than the standard rate for a backup quarterback that has the same skills. You could have also spent less money taking out ads in the New York Post and the NY Daily News than grabbing the prerequisite headlines that come with signing “the dog-killer.”
The Ugly: The New York Jets currently have the record for most consecutive seasons with a butt-fumble. This was accomplished when Mark Sanchez lost the ball when he ran into the backside of Brandon Moore in 2012 and when Geno Smith attempted to pass the ball to himself behind his back against the Tennessee Titans in 2013. Is it Michael Vick’s turn? He’s had enough ball-handling issues to make it a three-peat.
Patrick Emmel is a sports humorist who once punted a soccer ball fifty yards to his teammate, who then scored the only goal for his college intramural soccer team’s season. Seriously, that kick was placed PERFECTLY. He is also still a believer that Colt McCoy is going to break out as an NFL quarterback. You can read more of his obnoxious commentary at This Jeer In Sports and heckle him on Twitter @Patrick_AE.