Wandering any major metropolitan street, you’ll be confronted with a vast range of characters. Whether it’s performers, business men or hobos, all kinds of people contribute to the organized chaos. The NFL makeup is the same – every rung on the ladder of success is represented by one team or another.
Thus, you have the inspiration for our 2007 NFL preview. We’ll break it down street people-style. Is your favourite team a Wall Street high roller or merely a distributor of Polish sausage?
No, this isn’t weird. Comparing NFL teams to street people is as natural as a wet dream when you’re 13.
Today, our AFC preview. Check out tomorrow for the NFC.
Led by sweet, wholesome studs like Tom Brady and LaDainian Tomlinson, the Girl Guides have a bright future ahead of them and a bevy of weapons at their disposal, including classic chocolate (Randy Moss), chocolatey mint (Antonio Gates), maple crème (Shawne Merriman) and the always underrated vanilla (Wes Welker).
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
Last year, Tom Brady led the Pats to the AFC Championship game throwing to Reche Caldwell and Bill Belichick’s milkman. Now they have Moss, Welker and Donte Stallworth. Oh, yeah. They added Adalius Thomas on ’D’ too.
Fast fact: Tom Brady’s newborn son can already throw farther than Chad Pennington.
Player most likely to be confused with a hamburger mogul: David Thomas, tight end
Even if they fail: they’ll still be lots of fun to play with on Madden.
Fan quote: “Boston is the centre of the sports universe and we’re gonna get the dynasty going again! Go Pats. Go Celts. Go Sawx.” -- John, 23
SAN DIEGO CHARGERS
The Chargers were essentially one game away from the Super Bowl (had the Bolts beat New England, you know Indianapolis wasn’t winning in San Diego) and return both a loaded offence and suffocating run defence. New head coach Norv Turner’s failed coaching stints/Freddy Kruger-like acne scarring are cause for concern.
Fast fact: Shawne Merriman isn’t really an asshole; he just plays one on TV.
Player most likely to have his name butchered every few weeks by Phil Simms: Brandon Manumaleuna, tight end
Even if they fail: San Diego will still have Ron Burgundy.
Fan quote: “Dude, the Chargers are far out. I can’t wait to just ride the wave to the Super Bowl.” -- Devin, 26
They’re flashy, they post eye-popping numbers, they’re consistently successful and they fuck their trophy wives once a week with a little help from Cialis. But they’re too focused on what they do best. They lack heart and balance in their lives, and that could hurt them in the long run.
The road to a repeat will be tough for Indy this year, as its toughest competition, New England and San Diego, have powerful offences and defences. The Colts will still light up the scoreboard, but their run defence is atrocious. “Special” children might be more effective at plugging holes, especially if told the opposing running back is carrying Fudgee-Os.
Fast fact: At a 2003 party at Peyton Manning’s home, teammates discovered an X-rated video in Manning’s film room. Upon removing the cassette from the Jenna Jameson case, they learned the tape was in fact a 2001 New England Patriots championship video.
Player most likely to attend a tapdancing class: Marvin Harrison, wide receiver
Even if they fail: Peyton can host Saturday Night Live again. And take another $200,000 to hit up another spoiled kid’s birthday party.
Fan quote: “Oh boy, I love my Peyton! My boys are going all the way again! Let’s go blue! Love my box seats! Me and my girls never miss a game. Wooo!” -- Janet, 39
The Ravens have a fearsome defence, even without Adalius Thomas; they allowed 54 fewer points than the hyped Bears last year. But Steve McNair is built like your dad after he fell off the ladder putting up the Christmas lights. Their offence could sputter again, even with Willis McGahee getting the rock.
Fast fact: Kicker Matt Stover won the Texas Connect Four championship six straight years.
Player most likely to be lambasted in the papers by Week Four: Willis McGahee, running back
Even if they fail: they can rest easy at night knowing they live in the murder capital of America.
Fan quote: “Go Baltimore. I will murder you.” -- Azrael, 27
STREET MEAT VENDORS
Sure, there are more respected titles than street meat vendor, but don’t look down your nose -- a job is a job. But can you tell one street meat guy from the next? Maybe one dude’s dogs are 50 cents cheaper but, at the end of the day, each of these guys provides a cheap, satisfying quick fix even though you’d rather be eating at The Keg.
Dre Bly and Champ Bailey give the Broncos the best cornerback tandem in the league, and one-cut runner Travis Henry is a perfect fit for Mike Shanahan’s system. If quarterback Jay Cutler can be even remotely more competent than former starter Jake Plummer -- which is like saying if a military pilot can be even remotely more competent at landing a jet than a drunk septuagenarian with bad cataracts and no arms -- the Broncos will be very playoff-worthy.
Fast fact: Champ Bailey’s mom also considered Winner, Victor, Conqueror, Top Dog, First-Place, No. 1 and Burt as names.
Player most likely to inspire his teammates thanks to his surprising death this offeason: cornerback Darrent Williams (narrowly edging running back Damien Nash)
Even if they fail: people will still (rightly) blame Jake Plummer.
Fan quote: “If this Cutler kid ain’t the next Elway, I’m getting’ my hunting rifle and climbing a bell tower.” -- Steve, 46
The Bengals’ offence is more explosive than a room full of divorced middle-aged women and a couple bottles of wine. That’s a good thing; nothing was done to solve the porous pass defence, so Carson Palmer et al will have to score at a furious clip to keep Cincy competitive. However, the Bengals didn’t kill anyone in the offseason (that we know of), so two thumbs up.
Fast fact: Chad Johnson’s next touchdown celebration will involve a tambourine, 12 break-dancing midgets, 200 pounds of ground beef, and Mario Lopez.
Player most likely to lead the NFL in rushing despite not having a single carry over 11 yards: Rudi Johnson, running back.
Even if they fail: They can enjoy an agreeable afternoon of lemonade and… fuck, who are we kidding? This is their one ticket out of prison. They need to win to save their lives. We’re pretty sure there’s nothing in Cincinnati to do but commit crimes.
Fan quote: “Officer, I think T.J. Houshmandzadeh just stole my car.” -- Evan, 33
NEW YORK JETS
Coming off 10 wins and a playoff appearance, the Jets mostly stood pat. Unfortunately for Gang Green, Chadette Pennington is still the starting quarterback and running back Thomas Jones is the only noteworthy addition. Head coach Eric Mangini has reportedly lost weight, however, and is down to an A-cup.
Fast fact: Mangini has been playing Mozart during practices (seriously).
Player most likely to “Tonya Harding” Pennington: deep-threat Laveranues Coles.
Fan quote: “I’m not doing it this year. I’m not letting them suck me in. Every year I follow them and they just fuck it all up. Pennington sucks. He can’t even throw the ball 10 yards.” -- Hurk’s dad, 47
Bill Cowher is gone, but new head coach Mike Tomlin is quickly earning the respect of his new players. The offence has solid pieces in place, and if quarterback Ben Roethlisberger can return to his Super Bowl form of being slightly better than mediocre, the Steelers can ride their traditional blue-collar strategy to victory: run the football, play tough defence, and shamelessly not hide the fact that your city is dirty and gross and nobody wants to live there.
Fast fact: Ben Roethlisberger has more keg stands than touchdown passes the past three seasons. (link to pic of Big Ben hammered)
Player with the whitest sounding name on the team: Heath Miller
Even if they fail: The Penguins locked up Sidney Crosby. Steeler fans love hockey! Right? Right? Damn.
Fan quote: “That Hines Ward is a real hit down at the mill.” -- Jim, 48
THAT GUY WHO WANTS TO BE ON WALL STREET BUT CAN’T QUITE GET THERE
He has potential. He partied too much in college but he got his business degree. He’s pretty charming and could sell a bicycle to Stephen Hawking. But he just can’t…quite…make the big time. He puts all his cash on red at the Casino, throws too many interceptions or gets fired for banging the intern in the copier room. Completely unreliable.
With a bruising “D” and a powerful running game featuring Fred “He’s still playing?” Taylor and human bowling ball Maurice Jones-Drew, the Jags should be better. Especially since Jack Del Rio looks like Troy Aikman and Byron Leftwich lost weight like a pornstar on the coke ’n’ AIDS diet. But they keep shitting the bed when it matters most (i.e. the last three games of 2006).
Fast fact: Natrone Means is the head custodian of Jacksonville Municipal Stadium. He can still run a sub-five-second 40.
Player most likely to be featured in children’s nightmares: John Henderson, defensive tackle
Even if they fail: They can laugh at Josh Scobee for somehow not being the only Josh Scobee in the NFL. In other news, there are three Chester McHorglesworths in the CFL.
Fan quote: “Don’t talk to me, boy. You’re interrupting bingo day.” -- Carl, 73
These shady types wander the streets with coats packed full of cheap wares, searching for the next victim to buy into their pathetic roster of goods. Occasionally, they’ll offer you a true gem they were lucky enough to find (Vince Young), but most of the time they want to sell you a junky counterfeit; on the way home you’ll tell yourself you got a good deal, but in the back of your head you know it’s crap (J.P. Losman).
The Titans won nine games last year but won’t be sniffing the playoffs this season. Stud quarterback Vince Young has the Madden jinx to worry about (oh, and that his receivers are Brandon Jones and Roydell Williams), their starting running back should be playing left guard, and if you hadn’t heard, star defender Pacman Jones had a bit of a rough summer.
Fast fact: When pundits and critics gloat and rip on Houston for passing up Vince Young for Mario Williams, they’re actually being big asshole douchebags because we sure don’t remember anybody telling us VY should go No. 1 last year.
Player most likely to lead the team in receiving: Irv Cook, i.e. the guy who cleans the john when the IV gives a defensive tackle the runs and he shits all over the seat
Even if they fail: at least Pacman can get the team sweet ringside tickets to the next TNA special event. Believe or not, Jeff Fisher is one of those shirtless guys who brings a sign.
Fan quote: “Y’all don’t need to worry about no video game curse. That young fella at quarterback is gonna scramble us back into the playoffs.” -- Jesse, 28
Gone: Nate Clements, Willis McGahee, Takeo Spikes, London Fletcher-Baker. Still there: depressed Buffalo fans moping through work every day hoping, someday, they’ll win something.
Fast fact: J.P. Losman can’t read.
Player most likely beat up in high school because of his goober name: reserve tight end Ryan Neufeld
Even if they fail: It could be worse. You could be living in -- no wait, we were already talking about Buffalo. Sorry.
Fan quote: This clip ought to do it. Sadly, he had another Super Bowl of heartbreak to go through after that one.
After a nightmarish season with Daunte Culpepper, Joey Harrington and Cleo Lemon at the helm, the Dolphins solved their quarterback troubles with… 37-year-old mush-head Trent Green? When do the Heat start playing again?
Fast fact: Chris Chambers’ hands are actually prosthetics.
Player most likely to be hanged from the goalposts by his hometown fans by Week Eight: Ted Ginn Jr., wide receiver
Even if they fail: They can still cling to all those Super Bowls Dan Marino won. Oh… yeah…
Fan quote: “Hopefully the 26-year-old rookie quarterback we drafted in the second round will pan out better than Brady Quinn. And hopefully my wife finds my dead, carbon monoxide-filled body in the garage before the children do.” -- every Miami Dolphins fan
THAT GUY WHO USED TO BE SUCCESSFUL BUT, TO YOUR UTTER SURPRISE, HAS HIT ROCK BOTTOM SINCE THE LAST TIME YOU SAW HIM
You’re strolling through the park when a Jesus look-a-like lurches toward you asking for money. You toss him a few coins.
“Thank you, sir…God bless.”
Suddenly, you realize the man beneath the beard is familiar.
“…Bob? Is that you? Bob from accounting?”
Tom Petty’s in the house, ’cause the Chiefs are free fallin’ Yes, that was terrible, just like the 2007 Chiefs. L.J. or no L.J., they’re doomed. With Willie Roaf and Will Shields gone, the O-line is no longer a strength. And let’s stop pretending Eddie Kennison is a No. 1 receiver.
Fast fact: You play…to win…the game. You PLAY…TO WIN…THE GAME.
Player most likely to go from Pro Bowler to pro(fessional) bowler: Kyle Turley, right tackle
Even if they fail: L.J. will still run over a couple dozen Colts on November 18 like a 15-year-old held back in Grade 8 playing at recess.
Fan quote: “Arrrroooowwwhead! We are so loud! Fuck the Raiders…I’m…I think I’m gonna puke. (rrrralph). Oh…oh fuck. Man, that feels so much better. I…no, wait, I’m gonna puke again.” -- Grady, 22
THE GIBBERISH-SPEAKING HOBO
This bearded, smelly derelict spends his days digging through trashcans and harmlessly lunging at nearby, unsuspecting passersby. His babbling is completely incomprehensible, save for a few curse words. He was forgotten by society long ago; most people ignore his existence until his dead body is found on a park bench with pigeons pecking away at his crumb-filled pockets. He reeks of spoiled meat and urine.
Browns fans point to the franchise’s excellent draft, in which it selected quarterback Brady Quinn and tackle Joe Thomas. Congratulations. Good for you. Call us in five years.
Fast fact: Tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. likes to brag to teammates about “how many chicks I’ve fucked” but he actually didn’t kiss a girl until his second year in college.
Player most likely to piss us off because of his stupid name: Linebacker Andra Davis. Apparently, Andra = on-DRAY.
Even if they fail: Brady Quinn will always be the prettiest quarterback of the ’07 draft.
Fan quote: “Wooo! The Dog Pound is back! Arf, arf! Brady Quinn! We’ve got a future to build around, we’re gonna win so many Super Bow--aw, fuck it. I don’t care anymore.” -- Harry, 44
The Texans sent two second rounders to the Falcons for backup quarterback Matt Schaub. Good thing Schaub can block for himself, unlike that bum David Carr. And good thing Houston doesn’t have any other holes to fill, like offensive line, wide receiver, linebacker, cornerback and safety.
Fast fact: Number of times Houston editors could justify using their clever “Super Mario” headline for much-maligned defensive end Mario Williams: zero.
Player most likely to become another Rob Johnson: Matt Schaub, he of the $48-million contract and two career starts.
Even if they fail: Texans fans can pretend they’ve been cheering for the Cowboys the whole time.
Fan quote: “If you say one word about Reggie Bush, boy, I will take this hunting knife and spill your insides right here” (spits tobacco) -- Jake, 25
The Raiders scored 12 offensive touchdowns last year. Twelve. Most of the damage can be attributed to walking crash-test dummy Art Shell, whose offensive co-ordinator, Tom Walsh, had been RUNNING A FUCKING BED AND BREAKFAST THE PAST 10 YEARS. Shell and his staff are gone but, still, as is the case after walking in on grandma getting gangbanged by the local hockey team, it’ll to take a while to recover (yeah. It was that bad).
Fast fact: Al Davis has been dead for six years. So when you question his decision making, the joke’s on you, sucka!
Player most likely to show up to a game hammered out of his mind: Sebastian Janikowski.
Even if they fail: it’s only mathematically possible to get two games worse.
Fan quote: “Fuck. I paid 250 bucks for that Moss jersey.” -- Will, 26