2012 NFL Preview: My Enthusiasm Is Never Curbed | Sharapova's Thigh

2012 NFL Preview: My Enthusiasm Is Never Curbed

Posted by Matt Clapp | 9/07/2012 06:55:00 PM | , ,


Editor's Note: This post was not written by me (Matt Clapp), but rather by Steve Hershey, one of my best friends, and one of the funniest guys on the planet. You really, really need to hear his Lou Holtz, Vin Scully, and Bill Walton impressions. Anyway, I think you'll like this 'Curb Your Enthusiasm'-themed NFL preview he put together for us.

If you have no idea who I am, (and why would you?) I’m happy to introduce myself to fans of THE THIGH as Steve Hershey. I’m the biggest NFL fan that I know. I’ve lost money, girlfriends, and friends over this damn thing, and I can’t say I have any regrets. You could call me self loathing at times, and with that in mind, Curb Your Enthusiasm is one of my favorite shows ever. Last year, the preview was done for my own site (which promptly fizzled) in Seinfeld format. This year, I’m piggybacking off Matt Clapp’s success to bring you the preseason power rankings in Curb Your Enthusiasm format. Your hate mail is welcome at smhershey@gmail.com. Enjoy.

1. Green Bay Packers – Car Pool Lane

“If you’re ever looking for a good blow job at a reasonable rate, she’s your gal.”

How does Larry manager to get past traffic to Dodger Stadium? TEAM UP! Whether teaming up with a hooker to get where you need to go, or blending offense, defense, and special teams, the best episode is awarded to the best team heading into 2012 with the Packers.

Aaron Rodgers had a tremendous season in 2011 in leading the Packers to a 15-1 regular season record before fizzling out to the Giants in the playoffs, and returns his core group of weapons in Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, and Jermichael Finley. The running game is certainly a question mark, as Cedric Benson could potentially be the “feature back” but this team’s offense will rely on the arm of number 12.

Defensively, Dom Capers oversees a unit that figures to be attacking from ahead, unleashing a pass rush led by All-Pro Clay Matthews. Charles Woodson is still alive and kicking at 36, and still plays a major role in the secondary.

The division is one of the two toughest in football, but cheeseheads have reason to be optimistic about a return trip to the Super Bowl.

2. New England Patriots – Club Soda and Salt

“This is an old restaurant trick. You gotta dilute the stain with club soda. You just pour club soda on the stain and then…then you put on table salt!”

Is it really that easy in New England? Spill some wine, lose the Super Bowl, and re-load covering up blemishes with some Club Soda and Salt? When Tom Brady is leading the troops and the best coach in football is in charge, the answer is a resounding yes.

The Patriots are still the class of the AFC, and in a division they should win in a walk, I’d plan on Foxboro being the site for this year’s AFC Championship game.

The Pats loaded up in the offseason, signing Brandon Lloyd to add a vertical threat they haven’t had since Randy Moss in 2007, and making good use of high draft choices with selections of Donta Hightower of Alabama and Chandler Jones of Syracuse to bolster a defense that struggled at times in 2011.

Rob Gronkowski is the best tight end in football, Wes Welker is shifty as ever underneath, and while they’ve never made a concentrated effort to run the football, having Brady slinging it is as good of a backup plan as any. I’ll take Massholes to clinch the AFC East just after Thanksgiving.

3. Houston Texans – Palestinian Chicken

“You know what it is? You're always attracted to someone who doesn't want you, right? Well, here you have somebody who not only doesn't want you... doesn't even acknowledge your right to exist, wants your destruction! That's a turn-on.”

Nobody wants the Texans at the table fitted for the NFL’s elite, but much like the Palestinian chicken, they’ve got good things cooking deep in the heart of Texas and one of the NFL’s best teams to boot.

Gone is former first overall choice Mario Williams as well as Demeco Ryans, but Wade Phillips was able to work wonders without Williams almost all of last year anyhow. Brooks Reed looks ready to make a leap after a strong playoff performance, and Connor Barwin is an emerging stud in his own right.

Arian Foster heads up one of the league’s best running teams, and followed by Ben Tate, the fighting moo cows are covered in the backfield.

The big question is health. Can Matt Schaub return from injury? Is Andre Johnson on the downside of his career? We’re not sure, but something tells me the Texans will find a seat at the table of the NFL’s final four.

4. Baltimore Ravens – Meet The Blacks (Ravens O outshines D)

Larry: So your last name is "Black"?
Loretta Black: Yes.
Larry: That's like if my last name was "Jew", like Larry Jew.

The Ravens have been led by their defense since moving to Baltimore in 1996, but with the continued emergence of Joe Flacco and the offense, it looks like 2012 could feature a whole new MO for the boys in black and purple.

Flacco, he of the Fightin’ Blue Hens of Delaware, continues to plod away unceremoniously in the shadows of other elite quarterbacks around the league. All he’s done is win more than 60% of his games, lead his team to the AFC Championship game twice in 4 years, and was a Lee Evans drop of heading to the Super Bowl last year. With the help of Ray Rice on the ground, Torrey Smith and Anquan Boldin through the air, and a new mentor in Jim Caldwell, Baltimore’s offense looks to be in good shape.

As far as the defense, well, it’s hard to count them out either. Ray Lewis is an enigma entering his 16th season, though he has certainly lost a step. The middle is manned by Haloti Ngata, who was again an All-Pro in 2011. Ed Reed is still one of my favorite players in the game, but like Lewis, has also lost something off his fastball.

The biggest question is where the pass rush will come from. The Ravens lost 2011 Defensive Player of the Year Terrell Suggs to an Achilles injury in the off-season, and despite his claims of a November return, I’ll be hard pressed to believe he will be in full force come week 12.

The Ravens are good enough to play against anybody, and I fully expect them to make a charge towards New Orleans.

5. New York Giants – The Anonymous Donor

“What is this bullshit? Anonymous? Give me a break! If you’re anonymous, how come people know about it?”

Who is the most talked about team in New York? Well, when Rex Ryan and Tim Tebow share the city, it’s not the defending world champions, though everyone knows what they bring to the table with 2 titles in the last 5 years.

It’s hard to qualify all the traits that make Eli Manning has, but above the shoulders, he seems to know exactly when to turn it on come playoff time. This year, he’ll have a more seasoned Victor Cruz, a steady Hakeem Nicks, and Ahmad Bradshaw out of the backfield. Coupled with David Wilson from the 2012 draft, the Giants seem to have plenty of weapons on offense to compete in the NFL’s toughest division to predict.

The defensive front four is monstrous, with Jason Pierre-Paul, Osi Umenyiora, and Justin Tuck rushing the passer. Can they stop the run? The loss of Shaun Rogers in the preseason certainly doesn’t help, and depth at defensive tackle seems to be a question mark.

Perhaps the biggest question mark is a secondary that seems to rotate corners like a Funkhouser rotates one-liners. Going against Tony Romo in week 1 won’t be a treat, but if the pass rush is up to snuff, it could help mask Big Blue’s biggest weakness.

It’s hard to predict the Giants, who at one point, were 7-7 entering the final two contests last year. With their play at the end of last year, I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt that they’re contenders once again.

6. Philadelphia Eagles - The Christ Nail

“See this thing? It's a mezuzah. Got that? And I need you to put it over the door here. This is like a Jewish thing, you know, we put it over the door so every anti-Semite in the neighborhood will know that we live here in case they want to burn down the house.”

The Eagles seem to continuously paint a bulls eye on themselves and have come up short the past few seasons. The 2011 “Dream Team” edition were a nightmare to figure out, finishing on a 4-game win streak just to manage a .500 finish at 8-8.

The biggest question surrounding this team is the health of Michael Vick. When he’s on, he’s still one of, if not the, most electric players to watch in the NFL. The problem is that Vick has played just 16 games in his career once, that being with the Falcons back in 2006. Right now, third round pick Nick Foles is the backup plan, and a rookie quarterback on a contender who figures to see time based on past history of the starter, is a recipe for disaster.

As far as weapons go, the Eagles are still loaded. Desean Jackson is looking to bounce back after a subpar 2011, but did receive a monster extension based on his past production. Opposite Jackson, Jeremy Maclin is a solid number two who has averaged 62 grabs over the course of his 3-year career. LeSean “Shady” McCoy is one of the most complete backs in league, and Brent Celek , in my opinion, is one of the most underrated tight ends in the league. The Eagles offense is in good hands with Andy Reid calling plays, as long as he’s not in charge of timeouts in a tight
spot.

Defensively, this team can rush the passer with Jason Babin and eternally overlooked Trent Cole on the edges. Nnamdi Asomugha had a tough time adjusting to the scheme in Philly last year, but is still one of the premier corners in the NFL. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie lines up opposite Asomugha, and has all the talent in the world but lacks consistency. The Eagles are hoping they shored up the middle of the defense in a trade for former Texans MLB Demeco Ryans, who was deemed replaceable in Houston.

This team has all the talent in the world on the roster, should be interesting if they have a Christ Nail in their backpocket to save themselves, or just a mezuzah to alert the neighborhood of their status.

7. Atlanta Falcons – The TiVo Guy

“Look, I’m not a cool guy or anything, I haven’t been on a date in 12 years, but I would love to waste your time for a couple of hours. What do you think about that?”

Larry David asking out Lucy Lawless seems like a perfect parallel to the Atlanta Falcons. Perhaps no quarterback heads a contender that seems more boring than Matt “Matty Ice” Ryan. He doesn’t seem like a cool guy by any stretch, but he piles up wins in a rather boring fashion, and usually wastes a couple of hours of my time. Yet, he piles up wins, not always sexy in fashion, but wins no less.

The Falcons are entering year 5 of the “Matty Ice” era, and have yet to notch a playoff win despite some regular season success. Is this the year they make the jump? With God knows what could happen in New Orleans this year, I give the fighting Mike Smiths the slight nod to take home the NFC South this year.

At Ryan’s disposal is one of the best wide receiver duos in the league in Julio Jones and Roddy White, to go along with the ageless Tony Gonzalez at tight end and Michael Turner in the backfield. My biggest concern with the offense is Turner, who has notched more than 300 carries in 3 of his 4 years since joining the ATLiens from San Diego. He’s hit the magical age of 30, which for a running back, can be a death sentence. I’m not sure Jason Snelling or Jacquizz Rodgers is the answer to any of the Falcons’ concerns beyond Turner.

Defensively, they’ve added Asante Samuel to pair with Dunta Robinson, and John Abraham anchors the defensive line. The linebackers are relatively anonymous, but are anchored by third year man Sean Weatherspoon, who tallied 115 tackles last year. With a ball control offense, the defense should stay fresh to face some of the prolific offenses they’ll play this year.

What more to say about Atlanta? They’re not really a cool team, they’ll waste a couple of hours of your Sunday, but they’re likely headed back to the postseason in 2012.

8. Pittsburgh Steelers – The Therapists

“You let a man slide today, you must immediately get inside somebody's ass when that happens to you. You pull the asshole open, step into the asshole, close the door behind you.”

If there were ever a team that could help fake a mugging like Leon Black advises Larry to do, it would be the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Though another year older, and after a rough playoff loss in Denver to close out 2011, the Steelers are still one of the pre-eminent franchises in the NFL. They’re back with a new offensive coordinator in Todd Haley, and look to return to form after a 12-4 season.

No matter what kind of life Ben Roethlisberger leads off the field, on the field, he’s been one of the best in the business since his arrival in 2004. Two super bowl rings prove his postseason moxy, and with weapons on the outside in Antonio Brown and the recently re-signed Mike Wallace, he’ll be able to toss it around like a drunk frat guy at a sorority party with ease.

The running game is suspect, as Rashard Mendenhall is coming off a torn ACL, with the immortal duo of Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer backing him up. Heath Miller is still a reliable if not flashy option at tight end, and the revolving door continues on the offensive line, especially taking a hit when first-round pick David DeCastro was lost with a preseason knee injury.

One thing Steeler fans always seem to rest at ease with is the play of the defense. Last year, they were ranked first in almost every major statistical category, only giving up more than 23 points twice including the playoffs. James Harrison’s knee is a question mark, but with Lamarr Woodley and Lawrence Timmons complementing him, he’s not asked to be the focal point. Troy Polamalu is still a playmaker, and with Dick LeBeau calling the shots, the Steel Curtain is as formidable as ever.

The AFC North could be a blood bath, but the Steelers have the pedigree to make it beyond week 17.

9. New Orleans Saints – The Smoking Jacket

Hugh Hefner: “Well, it’s not a Rozelli, but it’s a great knock off.”

These sure look like the New Orleans Saints, but a quick trip to the bathroom and suspensions from the league office in the bounty scandal sure seems to take some of the luster off this team. After a 3-13 in the wake of Katrina in 2005, the Saints have faced more adversity in the past 10 years than just about any organization of recent memory.

Sean Payton is one of the best playcallers in the NFL, and is suspended for the entire 2012 season. Interim coach Joe Vitt is out for 6 games as well, leaving the head duties to offensive line coach Aaron Kromer. No knock on Kromer, but he’s in a tough spot- the guy behind the guy, behind the guy.

Despite the ruckus that happened in the offseason (including Drew Brees missing all of OTAs), the Saints still have one of the most entertaining offenses in the NFL.

While Drew Brees re-wrote the passing record book in 2011, they still have one of the deepest backfields in the league with Pierre Thomas, Darren Sproles, and former first-rounder Mark Ingram. Jimmy Graham was the recipient on 11 of Brees’ touchdown passes last year, and continues to find his niche as a tight end after a college basketball career. Can we plug in anyone at wide receiver here? Brees spreads the ball around so well, often hitting more than 10 different targets in games. Marques Colston, Devery Henderson, and Lance Moore are listed top 3 on the depth chart, but seem like interchangeable parts.

Defensively, they’ll be short Jonathan Vilma for 8 games, but added a nice coup with defensive tackle Broderick Bunkley formerly of Denver. Can the secondary hold up against the NFC aerial attacks? Remains to be seen, but this team will live and die based on the offense even if the rest of the organization looks like a knock off.

10. San Francisco 49ers – The Pants Tent

Larry: [regarding his "bunch-up"] Is it a bad thing? Maybe it's not such a bad thing.
Cheryl: Oh, 'cause you want people to think you constantly have an erection?

I’ve seen Alex Smith play from 2005-2010, and at no point was I aroused by his play in any regard to the word. In 2011, he put on his corduroys, showed some life, and made me wonder if there was more to him than just a bunch up.

Jim Harbaugh wasn’t exactly following Vince Lombardi in replacing Mike Singletary, but sure looked like the biggest coaching upgrade in 20 years with his work last year. He turned an underachieving quarterback into a reliable signal caller, got the most out of a limited receiving group, and pounded the football much like his days at Stanford. The defense was tremendous behind Patrick Willis and Navorro Bowman, and was one of the stingiest units in the league in
2011.

On offense this year, the Niners beefed up the backfield with Brandon Jacobs and added LaMichael James via the draft, and brought Randy Moss out of retirement hoping he could add a deep threat. Moss isn’t going to revert to his 2007 Patriots form, but if he has anything left in the tank, he’d be an upgrade to the deep threats from last year. Vernon Davis flourished under Harbaugh, and is still a top-5 tight end. Frank Gore has been a good back, but I wonder if he’ll hold up to play another 16 games if only because he’s had a history of injuries and is another year closer to 30 at age 29.

The biggest question for the 49ers is if Alex Smith’s 2011 campaign was an illusion, or if he fooled us with some new corduroys that didn’t fit right, and was showing off more than he really had.

11. Denver Broncos – Shaq

“Oh my God…I’m so sorry…it, it was an accident!”

Shaquille O’Neal was no match for Larry’s protruding feet, and for Bronco fans everywhere, Peyton Manning’s neck better be able to withstand the hits any QB receives during the course of an NFL game.

As a die-hard Broncos fan, I think I walked around with a pants tent of my own for a solid 2 months after they signed Manning despite the concerns over his neck injury and 4 surgeries if only because it got us out away from Tebow-mania and into potential contender status. If Manning threw left handed this year, he’d still be an upgrade over the man in charge from 2011.

On offense, the Broncos are thin at wideout, but have two players ready to breakout in Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas. Perhaps no pair in the league figures to take a bigger leap than these two, upgrading to Manning is a godsend to these young receivers learning the craft from a master. In the backfield, Willis McGahee went against father time with a career year in 2011, but is now 31 years of age. Knowshon (no show) Moreno is a bust, and had to fight tooth and nail just to make the team. Ronnie Hillman was a third round pick out of San Diego State, and has shown flashes in the preseason, but we’ll have to see if he’s ready to contribute this season. The tight ends are Joel Dreessen and former Manning target Jacob Tamme over from Indy, but neither of them has been a featured player in their careers. Stay tuned.

Defensively, the Broncos feature two of the best pass rushers in Elvis Dumervil and last year’s Defensive Rookie of the Year Von Miller. The secondary added Tracy Porter and Mike Adams to a unit that was suspect in 2011. Second year safety Rahim Moore absolutely has to make a leap in 2012 if he wants to have a future in the Mile High City. The biggest question for my money defensively, is the unit in the middle at defensive tackle. Broderick Bunkley is on the bayou after a terrific 2011, and in his place the Broncos drafted Derek Wolfe from Cincinnati and Ty Warren, coming off of 2 years lost to injury. The defense will need to step up, but should spend more time in the lead than last season with Manning at the helm of the offense.

The schedule for the Broncos looks like the toughest in the NFL, as they face an absolute gauntlet the first 8 weeks of the year with games against Pittsburgh, at Atlanta, Houston, New Orleans, and at New England to name a few. The entire season is dependent upon Manning’s neck, and if he’s healthy, there’s a good chance this team could sneak into the playoffs and make some noise.

12. Chicago Bears – Wandering Bear

Wandering Bear: Hello, Cheryl.
Cheryl: Good morning, Wandering Bear.
Wandering Bear: How is your vagina?

The Bears are looking in any place they can to stay healthy in 2012, after injuries derailed a promising 7-3 start in 2011.

When Jay Cutler went down, the reins were turned over to Caleb Hanie, who looked ill-equipped to play high school football down the stretch let alone lead an NFL team to a playoff berth. Matt Forte showed why NFL players holdout for contracts, getting hurt in the midst of his breakout season, which coincided with a contract year.

So where did the Bears turn in the off-season? Well they solidified the backup quarterback position by bringing in Jason Campbell, who is on his 68th different offensive coordinator since coming into the league in 2005. To backup Forte, Michael Bush was swept in from the Raiders, and has played a nice complementary role over the years to the likes of Darren McFadden.

For Cutler to throw to, Brandon Marshall was acquired via trade from the Dolphins, reuniting the former Broncos battery mates in the process (no pun intended on battery and Marshall in the same sentence). Alshon Jeffrey was also drafted from South Carolina, and needs time to develop but is more promising than most recent Bears’ rookie wideouts.

The Bears have always been known for defense though, and are a year longer in the tooth. Julius Peppers is still a stud at defensive end, almost always requiring a double team in his pursuit of the passer. Lance Briggs is still solid at linebacker at the second level, and the secondary benefits from the pass rush.

Ultimately, Brian Urlacher is the heart and soul of this team. He has admitted his knees aren’t ever going to be the same, and went to Europe for rejuvenation tactics employed by the likes of Kobe Bryant and Tiger Woods. For his sake and the Bears, we’ll hope that he was able to look in the right place for recovery.

This is a team that has all the makings of a playoff contender, it will just be a matter of finding health at key positions, or they could be a group of wandering Bears come January.

13. Cincinnati Bengals – The End (Have the Bengals seen the light?)

“Oh my God…I’m a gentile.”

Upon learning of his potential adoption, Larry finds that maybe he isn’t really what he thought he was.

After his 2011 offseason in which Mike Brown drafted AJ Green and Andy Dalton, and patiently waited out Carson Palmer netting a pair of high draft picks from the Raiders in the process, perhaps Mike Brown has seen the light.

The Bengals have always taken flyers on players with questionable character, signing veterans with rap sheets, and most of all, performing like a team completely out of control.

This Bengals team has a different feel though. Dalton played masterfully as a rookie last year, and although he had his hiccups, took the team to the playoffs despite being in the same division as Pittsburgh and Baltimore. With another year of AJ Green, an added running back in sure handed Benjarvus Green-Ellis, the offense should make strides in year 2 of Jay Gruden’s offense.

Defensively, Marvin Lewis likes to play a physical, attacking style, that is fitting for the division despite lacking a true star. Rey Maualuga is the feature player at middle linebacker, but keep an eye out for rookie LB Vontaze Burfict (SUN DEVIL!), who made the team as an undrafted rookie and spent time with the first unit.

Don’t look now Bengals fans, but if they get off to a good start, “My God, they’re good”.

14. Detroit Lions – Krazee Eyez Killah

Krazee-Eyez Killa (rapping): So you think you gonna cross me, and mess with my shit? Opening your fucking trap, and flapping your lip. Don't fuck with me nigga, or you gonna get dropped. I'll snap off your neck with a crackle and pop.
Larry: Whoa, I like that Rice Krispies thing! ... Crackle and pop!

Who else to mesh with a crazy rapper than Larry? Who else to consider a crazy team but the Detroit Lions, who lead the league in arrests over the past calendar year? Stand and be recognized!

The Lions took a leap in 2011, behind the arm of Matthew Stafford tallying more than 5,000 yards through the air, and of course the immortal Calvin Johnson, who signed a monster extension that will see him as a Lion for life.

The offense will likely drive the show here, as Stafford was able to finally stay healthy and should build upon his 2011 campaign. Nobody’s worried about what they’re getting from Megatron, but the rushing attack is a revolving door. Jahvid Best has concussion issues, Mikel Leshoure is suspended to start the year, and Kevin Smith is a retread originally drafted by the team a few years back, now starting the season with the first team. The aerial attack should be fine, but I wonder how they can control the ball to maintain a lead.

Defensively, Ndamukong Suh (still hard to type FYI) is a monster in the middle, and the pass rush is formidable with Kyle Vanden Bosch, even though he’s not what he once was. They’ll have to cover for a secondary prone to the big play to keep this team from shootouts.

All in all, the Lions will still be a good team, but in a division with the Packers, they’ll need snap, crackle, and pop to go their way.

15. Dallas Cowboys – The Larry David Sandwich

Ted: My sandwich is turkey, cole slaw, russian dressing. It's a classic. People come in and they order a "Ted Danson".
Larry: Yeah but you're not there. You don't go in there.
Ted: Yeah but people are used to my sandwich. All of a sudden they show up there and they're eating the "Ted Danson" sandwich, you know, all of a sudden has herring and lox….

Who doesn’t want their namesake sandwich to be a classic? Well, the Cowboys were recently determined as the most valuable NFL franchise, but haven’t matched with substance to justify the name brand in recent years that Jerry Jones so desperately craves.

Offensively, Tony Romo may be the most over analyzed player I can remember, mostly because he plays for the name brand Cowboys. It’s hard to fault Romo, who had a 22-6 TD/INT ratio to close out 2011, but has in fact struggled on the big stage. I’m not calling him a hack by any stretch, in fact I think he’s the best quarterback in the league at reviving a broken play. He will need to get a few big wins under his belt, and as of this writing, he started of 2012 on a good note in New York.

The backfield of Demarco Murray and Felix Jones needs to prove to be consistent, as Murray showed great promise in his rookie campaign. Receivers Miles Austin and Dez Bryant prove a formidable pair, while Jason Witten has always been Romo’s go to guy in the clutch.

Defensively, Rob Ryan has to be happy with the additions of corners Brandon Carr from Kansas City, and rookie Maurice Claiborne from LSU. The secondary was this team’s biggest downfall last year, but as long as they can hold up in 2012, and with Demarcus Ware staying true to form up front, should improve.

The Cowboys have some work to do to regain their status among the elite sandwiches of the NFL, but have the talent to overcome whitefish, lox, onions, and capers.

16. San Diego Chargers – Vehicular Fellatio

“We are lego. We're a fucking lego set right now. We are fucking interlocked together. We fucked her."

Larry and Leon are joined at the hip in this episode, as vehicular fellatio is a common problem for Larry, Jeff, and even a new therapist. I don’t quite remember a General Manager who has hitched his sail up with a coach quite to the extent AJ Smith has with Norv Turner, but the two legos seem to have their fates intertwined with the 2012 edition of the San Diego Chargers.

Philip Rivers is undoubtedly one of the best quarterbacks in football, but it’s hard not to imagine the window has closed more than just a bit on this once perennial Super Bowl contender.

Vincent Jackson is gone to Tampa, Antonio Gates is older, and Ryan Matthews can never
seem to stay healthy. That being said, Rivers has always found ways to distribute the ball to a plethora of unknowns. Last year, Rivers threw a career high 20 interceptions while leading the Bolts to an 8-8 record. The receiver position seems thin, with Malcom Floyd as the #1, and former Saint Robert Meachem opposite him. Eddie Royal was signed away from Denver to play the slot, but hasn’t really had a great year since his rookie campaign with the Broncos and is always on the radar for the injury list. My money is on Rivers to revert to his pre-2011 form, and be a force once again.

Defensively, San Diego must improve on a defense that was torched by big play offenses in 2011. Eric Weddle helps on the backend, but do they have the pass rush to take pressure off the secondary?

The Chargers will have to avoid another 6-game losing streak, or the two legos at the top may very well be found in a ditch due to a poor execution of vehicular fellatio.

17. Buffalo Bills – The Survivor

Colby: Look, I'm saying we spent 42 days trying to survive. We had very little rations, no snacks-
Solly: Snacks? What are you talking snacks? We didn't eat, sometimes for a week, for a month!
Colby: I couldn't even work out. They certainly didn't have a gym.
Solly: What? What are you-
Colby: I mean, I wore my sneakers out and the next thing you know, I've got a pair of flip-flops!
Solly: Flip-flops?!
Colby: I slept on the ground, on the dirt, ok? 118 degrees during the day, 98 at night with
98%humidity.
Solly: 45 degrees below zero!
Colby: Did you guys have a bathroom?
Solly: A bathroom?!
Colby: We didn't have one.
Solly: We had twelve people at a time, would go and shit on each other!
Colby: Well, I'm sure you guys had toilet paper.
Solly: We had newspaper.
Colby: We had mosquitoes.
Solly: Mosquitoes. You see this glass eye? Eh? Eh?
Colby: Have you even seen the show?
Solly: Did you ever see our show? It was called the Holocaust!

Leave it to Larry David to mistakenly put two very different types of survivors together. Buffalo Bills fans have to feel the same way, as it has been nearly 20 years since the string of 4 consecutive Super Bowl appearances, and since the days of Wade Philips since a playoff berth.

Bills fans have reason to be optimistic this year though. They went out and signed the biggest defensive free agent on the market in Mario Williams, who took just one visit before inking a 6-year, $100 Million contract. Kyle Williams is the best defensive lineman nobody talks about, and Marcel Dareus looks to be a keeper moving into year 2.

Offensively, Buffalo was entertaining during a 4-2 start last year before throwing up all over themselves. Ryan Fitzpatrick is still at the helm, but after signing a long term deal mid-season, looked like an Ivy League quarterback matched against the SEC. Stevie Johnson is a nice receiver, but the offense will live and die with the running back duo of Fred Jackson and CJ Spiller.

If Bills fans can survive the regular season, they could be in playoff contention towards the end of the year.

18. Seattle Seahawks – The Special Section

Larry: Wood grain is not going to stop us from a sale
Richard: What are you doing? This is a practical joke right?
Larry: Can you excuse us here?
Richard: Excuse who?
Larry: You just cost me a customer. I had him, I was gonna take him to the manager’s office.
Richard: Cost you a customer? What are you f******* Willy Loman?

What bill of goods is Pete Carroll trying to sell me on this year? Oh look, it’s Russell Wilson!

After signing Matt Flynn to a generous 3-year deal in the offseason, Carroll is rolling the dice, masquerading as an NFL coach in year 3 of his Seahawks tenure, betting that a third round pick from Wisconsin is the answer to his quarterback conundrum over his biggest free agent signing.

Truth be told, I kinda like the gamble. Flynn earned his deal based on a 2 game stint in Green Bay, while Wilson was able to adapt to a new System and played fantastically last year at Wisconsin. In the mold of Drew Brees, Wilson’s biggest question mark is his height, listed at 5-11. He’s got great mobility though, and if he gets the kind of support he’ll need from receivers, maybe he is the bill of goods that can help Seattle while Marshawn Lynch carries the rushing attack.

Defensively, the Seahawks are pretty darn good. They feature Chris Clemons and Red Bryant rushing the pass, while the secondary has really turned into a strength with tall corners Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman supported by Kam Chancellor and ballhawk Earl Thomas.

With another year of weakness forecast in the NFC West, the Seahawks need to take care of the homefield as they usually do, and just maybe, Pete Carroll can sell everyone on the idea that this is his best NFL team yet.

19. New York Jets – Denise Handicapped and Wendy Wheelchair

Larry: I don't know her last name. She was in my Blackberry under "Denise Handicapped".
That's how I remember these names. Don't you do that in your Blackberry? You put names down with jobs, some association, so you remember who they are? I got "Sean yoga", the yoga teacher, and "Teresa masseuse".
Leon: I do the same thing. I got "Nancy big tits". I know Nancy got big ass tits. "Janelle sweet ass"..

Whatever you want to call them, the Jets are a circus. How do they go about adding to the backpages in the offseason? Adding skill position players to help a young quarterback? Why not add a questionable NFL quarterback who is the most debated non-story on the planet in Tim Tebow? Perfect fit for the tabloids!

Honestly, I have no idea what the hell the Jets are doing offensively. Shonn Greene has shown me so little that if he walked up on the street and said he sold me Chipotle last week I wouldn’t second guess him. They’ve just traded for Jason Smith to play right tackle, who has been moonlighting as an usher at the dome in St. Louis the past few years. Nick Mangold and D’Brickashaw Ferguson are still good on the line, but what else do the Jets have? Santonio Holmes is listed as the number 1 at receiver, but this is the same guy who was kicked out of the huddle by his own quarterback last season. This is the group that couldn’t manage a touchdown
in the pre-season.

As far as the quarterbacks go, Mark Sanchez sounds like Denise Handicapped, while Tim Tebow is definitely Wendy Wheelchair. They may be great human beings off the field, but I don’t want either one of them to run my team from under center, though Tebow could lead the team in prayer.

Defensively, this is still a great unit, and say what you want about Rex Ryan, he knows how to attack offenses. Darrelle Revis is still the best corner in football, and he’ll need to be with the amount of time the D is going to spend on the field this year.

Whatever you want to call them, handicapped, wheelchair bound, physically deficient, the Jets will probably take another step back in 2012 until they can find some playmakers on offense.

20. Kansas City Chiefs – AAMCO

Radio: Double A, M-C-O.
Larry: Hey what the fuck do you want it’s a stop sign?!
Jeff: It was the radio you idiot!

What can ruin a classic car more than a transmission problem? The driver, Larry David.

And what can hamper an NFL team loaded with talent at the skill positions? The quarterback, Matt Cassel.

Look, nothing against Cassel, but if the Chiefs had gotten Peyton Manning, they’d have Manning, Jamaal Charles, Dwayne Bowe, Peyton Hillis, and Jonathan Baldwin at the skill positions in 2012. Instead, insert Cassel for Manning and tell me how you feel about this team moving forward? Thank you. I just don’t see Cassel knowing what to do with these weapons. He’s like a 15-year old kid locked in an elevator with a porn star for 8 hours wondering when the repairman will finnnallly get there. Charles should be healthy after tearing his ACL in Week 1 last year, and Bowe is back in camp after singing his tender while Baldwin has all the talent in the world if he can get his head on straight. I even forgot to mention Tony Moeaki at tight end, who played
well in 2010 but missed most of last season due to injury.

Defensively, Romeo Crennel heads up a bunch featuring Tamba Hali, Derrick Johnson, and the return of a healthy Eric Berry. They gave teams fits down the stretch once Crennel took over from Todd Haley, even managing to put an end to the Packers’ bid at a perfect season.

This team is loaded with talent, but with Cassel at the helm, I don’t see them advancing to the postseason.

21. Tennessee Titans – The Table Read

Michael Richards: I thought you only got Bar Mitzvahd once?
Leon: Oh no, no, no. You gotta recharge the Mitzvah, you misunderstood. It’s once every 13 years.

Has it really been 13 years since the Titans were just one yard away from a championship? My how time flies.

This year, they’ll be breaking in a new quarterback as Jake Locker takes over the reins from Matt Hasselbeck, 13 years since Steve McNair came into his own in Nashville.

Locker is a heck of an athlete, drafted by the Angels in the 10th round of the MLB Draft, and has a solid supporting group both on the offensive line, and at the skill positions. If Chris Johnson ever returns to his CJ2K form remains to be seen, and whether Kenny Britt stays out of jail is a constant hot topic in underground gambling leagues. Newcomer Kendall Wright from Baylor is an intriguing wideout prospect, and Jared Cook is emerging as a reliable threat from the tight end spot while Michael Roos is one of the best in the business at left tackle.

Defensively, the Titans lost their best player in Corland Finnegan to free agency, but always seem to manage to plug in the holes with other unheralded players. Jason McCourty takes over the mantle as the next Titans player who will emerge to prominence, but I’m not sure they’ll have enough of a pass rush to take over games.

The Titans are in rebuilding mode, and it looks like this is another phase of being Bar Mitzvahd back into a quality team.

22. Carolina Panthers – The Weatherman

Weatherman: Larry, theres a low pressure system sitting out over the coast, the jet stream brings that into this area, the jet stream is controlled by the rotation of the Earth, you know who controls that? God!
Larry: You know what? There's a jetstream of bullshit coming out of your mouth my friend, you are busted buddy!

Much like the weather, I can’t honestly predict what will happen to the Carolina Panthers in 2012. Is Cam Newton a hybrid between Ben Roethlisberger/Michael Vick? Kinda looks like it right now, but how much of a beating can he take running the football? Newton proved worthy of the top overall pick last year, making many a fantasy player’s day with both his passing and rushing statistics. I can’t help but feel like teams will know how to gameplan for him just a little
bit better in 2012.

The Panthers have spent a lot of money on DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart in locking them up to long-term deals, and as we’ve found out, the best friend of any
young quarterback in a solid running game.

Ron Rivera is a defensive minded coach coming from San Diego to Carolina. He’ll need to improve on last year’s unit, which finished right near the bottom of the league last season. They drafted linebacker Luke Kuelchy out of Boston College, who I loved after watching him play last year in college. Will Charles Johnson justify his big contract coming off the edge or is another down year in store for him while he battles questions of complacency? The secondary needs work, and would benefit from a pass rush, but overall the unit looks improved in preseason.

Based on what I’ve seen, I’m predicting a 3rd place finish in the NFC South, and think the Panthers are still a year away from the playoffs.

23. Washington Redskins – The Acupuncturist (bounty paid for RG3)

“You know I’d pay whoever can fix my neck $5,000 if they get it right.”

Much like a good acupuncturist, a quarterback is often the key to all your pains.

Which brings us to the Washington Redskins. Joe Gibbs managed to win three Super Bowls with three different quarterbacks (Joe Theismann, Doug Williams, Mark Rypien), but things haven’t been so smooth at the QB position in the nation’s capitol since.

Mike Shanahan is in year 3 as chief of the ‘Skins, and finally appears to have a quarterback around which to build. His experiment with John Beck and Rex Grossman led him to pay a hefty bounty to move up to get Heisman winner Robert Griffin III, and by surrendering multiple first round picks, he was able to acquire his franchise quarterback.

While the notoriously impatient Daniel Snyder stews in his owner’s box yearly, it will be interesting to see if Shanahan is around long enough to have his pain relieved in time to see RG3 flourish.

24. Arizona Cardinals – The Thong

Richard Lewis: This is my 28th therapist since 1969. I don't want any more. I don't want to break the record.
Larry David: The recap is very hard, isn't it? Your recap is two, three months, isn't it?
Richard Lewis: Two, three months? That's just the crib!

Much like finding a good therapist, quarterbacks are a tough find. Even when you find the most respected of professionals, it’s hard to trust them when they show up to the beach in a thong as Larry David knows all too well.

In the role of Larry, Ken Whisenhunt has been tabbed an offensive mind, and given the history of the Arizona Cardinals prior to his arrival, has earned his stripes as a head coach. His biggest problem however, remains at the game’s most important position where John Skelton has been tabbed to lead the Bird Gang to start 2012.

After handsomely paying Kevin Kolb (not to mention relinquishing a 2nd round pick and
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie) some $20 Million plus thus far, he’ll find himself on the bench. Skelton, a former 5th round pick from Fordham, led the Cardinals on a nice finish last year to wrap up 2011 8-8 after a putrid 1-6 start. Skelton showed promise in spurts, but like most young quarterbacks, lacked consistency in leading the offense.

The defense is playoff ready, and features Darnell Dockett, Calais Campbell, Daryl Washington, and second year stud Patrick Peterson. They’ll have to carry this team, along with special teams, in order for the Cards to match their win total from last year.

One of the great shames of the NFL is that Larry Fitzgerald continues to find his throws being mustered by the likes of Fordham alum. Until the Cardinals find an answer under center, it looks like Larry Fitzgerald/David will be on to the next one come 2013. Stay tuned.

25. Oakland Raiders – The Baptism

While Larry unknowingly stopped a baptism, Raider fans I know are welcoming a re-birth with a new regime led by new GM Reggie McKenzie and head man Dennis Allen.

The MO of the Raiders under Davis was to bring in veterans and speed guys, throw the ball deep, and worry about character later. That recipe worked in the 70’s and 80’s, but since their trip to Super Bowl 37, the Raiders have been the worst team in the league.

McKenzie was brought in from Green Bay to build a new roster, but after trading away
numerous draft picks, the Raiders look to be in purgatory for the next couple of years until they can reload the roster with draft choices traded away for the likes of over-the-hill Carson Palmer and unproven Terrelle Pryor.

Allen did well in his lone season as DC in Denver, but it will be difficult to judge his head coaching acumen with this roster. He and McKenzie are tied together, and will baptize the post Davis era, for better, or worse.

26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Car Periscope (Better Days Ahead)

Larry: You know I always wondered why nobody has come up with this before, you can see traffic and what’s going on ahead.

The 2011 Buccanneers started out 4-2 before absolutely quitting on Raheem Morris, and
finishing with a nice little 10-game slide. Morris was promptly fired, and in comes another college to the pros guy in Greg Schiano from Rutgers.

Schiano seems like the type of no-nonsense, disciplined coach that gets a young team in shape, ready for contention, and is promptly fired after year 3 only to see the fruits of his labor emerge under a new regime. Just a hunch. He’s close with Bill Belichick, and I’m sure that helped play a role in his hiring not to mention his resuscitation or a moribund program at the State University of New Jersey.

The Bucs made a splash in free agency, signing Vincent Jackson, Dallas Clark, and Carl Nicks to big deals in order to help Josh Freeman on the offensive side. Jackson is the kind of down the field threat the Bucs need, and the type of player who can make even the worst thrown balls catchable, perfect for Freeman to look to in a pinch. The drafting of Doug Martin in the backfield to go along with LeGarrette Blount will also lessen Freeman’s load, and the offense should be better than last year.

Defensively, the Bucs have always been known as a cover 2 team with playmakers at every level. Corner Eric Wright comes in from Detroit, while Ronde Barber is still plugging along at safety. The ever interesting Aqib Talib has managed to stay out of jail, and paired with Wright, will be one of the more interesting duos to keep an eye on this upcoming year.

The Bucs will be improved this year so long as they don’t quit on their coach. This is a team that was 10-6 just two years ago, so we know that have some idea of how to win football games. I don’t think it will be this year, but this is a team with better days ahead.

27. Indianapolis Colts – Chet’s Shirt (Familiar Luck/Manning Parallel)

Larry: I don’t like talking to people I know, but strangers I have no problem with.

If there’s one thing I’ll say about Jim Irsay, he’s the most colorful NFL owner on Twitter. My thing is that I could definitely seeing him shunning his own front office while tweeting away intimate details about his own organization. The above quote came from Chet’s shirt, where Larry and Ted Danson fawn over a shirt worn by an old friend, which sounds like the Colts, who have replaced legendary Peyton Manning, with the most Manning like QB since in Andrew Luck.

I’m the same guy who got kicked out of a Broncos game for chanting for Andrew Luck while Tim Tebow was playing a home game in Denver, so suffice to say I love this guy. He makes sound decisions, commands the game, and seems to know exactly where to go with the football. He’s playing with a completely re-tooled roster outside of Reggie Wayne, but he has a familiar target in Coby Fleener who is one of my fantasy sleepers this year.

Defensively, the Colts made a nice pickup in the wake of “Hard Knocks”, acquiring Vonta Davis last week. Dwight Freeney eats up huge cap space, and can still rush the passer. The difference in Indy this year will be that the defense doesn’t figure to be granted the leads at had been previously the case during the Manning years leading up to the debacle of 2011. Instead, they’ll be forced to face more balanced attacks, and I’m not sure they’re equipped to handle the run.

It should be a rebuilding year in Indianapolis, but keep in mind that the team went 3-13 in another rookie QB’s debut season of 1998. This scene looks all too familiar.

28. Miami Dolphins – The Producers/Opening Night

Mel Brooks: What the hell are you doing? Looks like you're making a sand castle on the table

Much in the mold of Mel Brooks putting Larry as an opening act in order to bomb out his own play, I have wondered what the hell is going on in Miami for a few years now. They’ve passed on quarterbacks such as Matt Ryan, traded away some of their only legitimate playmakers like Brandon Marshall, and seem more concerned with who is in the luxury suites as opposed to having people actually care about the product on the field.

They brought in Mr. Personality in Joe Philbin to lead the troops from Green Bay, and by HBO indications, he’s Mr. Magoo 2.0. Philbin lead the Packers offense the past few years under Mike McCarthy, but doesn’t have the weapons in place to make it work in Miami.

This year, they finally drafted a quarterback in the first round for the first time since Dan Marino in 1983 in Ryan Tannehill (and let’s applaud Lauren Tannehill’s very existence). While that was a pretty tough act to follow, it would be wise to do so more often than every 29 years. Tannehill started just 18 games at Texas A&M, but follows his former head coach Mike Sherman to Miami to the pro ranks, hopefully making his transition to the big leagues a little bit easier.

As far as receivers go….well…I have my doubts. They traded the aforementioned Marshall to Chicago, cut Chad Johnson, and trot out the likes of Rishard Matthews and Devone Bess. Sheesh. I’m not sure how much of a load they expect Reggie Bush to carry, but it sure sounds like he’ll need a good chiropractor weekly.

Defensively, the Dolphins have been solid for a number of years but have gotten nothing from their counterparts on offense. Karlos Dansby is probably the marquee player, but the roster is filled with do your job types who seem to play well as a unit.

It could be a long year in South Florida, and I can hear my Dolphin buddies screaming at the set for someone to make a play. What the hell are they building down there anyways? Sandcastles?

29. St Louis Rams – Lewis Needs A Kidney

Nurse: I have good news, gentlemen. Both of your blood types are compatible with Mr Lewis for his kidney transplant.
Jeff: Good night nurse.
Nurse: Good night.
Jeff: It's just a saying.
Nurse: I've never heard of it.
Jeff: It's an old one.
Nurse: That's nice.

After the past few years of futility, the St Louis Rams were in desperate need of a transplant of winning football. Hiring Jeff Fisher should bring a successful formula that will help the team make strides towards the days of the greatest show on turf.

We’re now in Year 3 of the Sam Bradford era, and needless to say, the team needs some help after a 2011 season in which the team regressed after a 7-9 2010. Bradford needs help from his receivers, and doesn’t seem to have them on his doesn’t look to have them on the roster at this point in the form of either Danny Amendola or Brandon Gibson. Steven Jackson… ohhh man I can’t help but feel for a great talent who has wasted away on a team that has gone absolutely nowhere in his time with the team.

Defensively, Chris Long has turned himself into a really good defensive end, and the team brought in Cortland Finnegan from Tennessee with whom Jeff Fisher knows well from their time together. This is a unit that is likely to see plenty of time on the field, and will need a number of breaks in order to hold down opposing offenses.

The Rams brought in someone to help save the franchise, but could it be long before the fans in St Louis get sick of the ineptitude and the team returns to Los Angeles?

30. Minnesota Vikings – The Group

Larry: My name is Todd, and I’m an incest survivor

It’s hard to imagine the Vikings were just a couple of plays from the Super Bowl just 3 years ago when Brett Favre threw across his body in New Orleans and Viking horns have been silenced ever since. They play in a brutally difficult division, and will need some time before heading back into contention.

Christian Ponder was picked to be the franchise guy in 2011, and at times showed that he could play. He’s still got a ways to go and will need all the help he can get from Percy Harvin and the recently acquired acrobatic Jerome Simpson from Cincinnati. Adrian Peterson suffered a brutal knee injury to end last year, and I don’t expect to see him at full strength until halfway through the year. No Peterson means more touches for Toby Gerhart, the former Heisman runner up from Stanford who will get a shot to prove he’s a number 1 in the NFL.

Defensively, Jared Allen is still one of the best pass rushers in the game. Chad Greenway is a decent linebacker, and Antoine Winfield is still good in spurts. This is a team that will be playing from behind a lot, and I don’t know how the D will manage to keep up with some of the offenses in the division featuring Aaron Rodgers, Jay Cutler, and Matthew Stafford. Yikes.

Don’t worry Vikings fans, you’re a loyal bunch, and with a new stadium on the way the team isn’t going anywhere. It may not be pretty, but you’ll have to rely on one another to get through tough times.

31. Jacksonville Jaguars – The Ski Lift/Big Vagina

Ben's daughter: Somebody's gonna have to jump.
Larry: Oh, stop.
Ben's daughter: Stop what? I can't be with you here after sundown! There's no other way!
Somebody's gonna have to jump! You're gonna have to jump!
Ben's daughter: Are you gonna jump?
Larry: What are you, fucking nuts?

What else can Jacksonville fans do? The only team in the league that really and truly could use Tim Tebow (for ticket sales alone), is faced with another year near the bottom of the league.

Blaine Gabbert had a disaster of a rookie year, looking like the worst player in the league at times. Out is Jack Del Rio, and in comes Mike Mularkey, who worked handsomely with Matt Ryan in his Atlanta development.

Gabbert will need to make strides this year, and unlike some other teams in the league (see: Jets, New York) Jacksonville went out of their way to give him an offensive weapon in rookie wide receiver Justin Blackmon. Blackmon is built like Anquan Bolidn: slightly undersized, fast but not blazing, with solid hands. I think if Gabbert makes strides this year, Blackmon will have to be partially responsible.

Maurice Jones-Drew ended his holdout, but if the last couple of years are any indication, it may not matter. The Jags ran the ball effectively last year with Jones-Drew, but still were near the bottom of the league in scoring.

Defensively, the Jags are fairly stout up front, but will need help in the back end. That’s pretty much all I have to say about that.

In Jacksonville, some fans will look at each other and ask who will jump next. My bet is they’ll be in the top 3 of the pecking order come next April’s draft.

32. Cleveland Browns – Porno Gil

“As my wife likes to say, this is the house that cum built.”

What can we say to Cleveland Browns fans? Outside a 10-6 performance where Derek Freaking Anderson had a breakout year only to get snubbed out of the playoffs, the Cleveland train wreck has made just one playoff appearance since returning to the league, and that was all the way back in 2002 when Kelly Holcomb still mattered. Yikes.

Things are so bad in Cleveland that the team was just sold to a lifelong Pittsburgh Steelers fan who even owned a part of the Steel Curtain prior to his $1 Billion purchase of the moribund franchise.

Good news? Well, Trent Richardson looked really good at Alabama, and then promptly required surgery on his knee before the season started. Brandon Weeden was once traded for Kevin Brown, in baseball, but the history of 28-year old rookie quarterbacks/former baseball standouts hasn’t always worked out (See: Weinke, Chris).

Joe Haden is the team’s best defensive player, but even he is facing a 4-game suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Joe Thomas, well he’s good, so they’ve got that going for them, which is nice.

I can’t help but feel for the good folks of Northeast Ohio and for that matter, head coach Pat Shurmur.

It sure looks like the Browns will be calling Matt Barkley’s name until then, and perhaps he can help turnaround the house that cum built.



So there you have it, my NFL preseason power rankings. If you’ve made it this far, you’ve done prettayyy prettayyy good. If you just browsed for your team, that’s a shame. Here’s to another great NFL season.

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