It seems to me that every year when a team is already mathematically eliminated from playoff contention there are always those teams that show signs of life in the last five or six games of the year. Last year the 49er's were one team that stepped up at the end of the year and that progress shinned through at the beginning of this year. Last year we saw three teams tank their season in the final six weeks. The Bills, the Jets, and, HILARIOUSLY, the Broncos.
I am not saying that the Chiefs are done and their playoff hopes are gone. (Even though I think they are) I would like to discuss some of the top teams that will probably tank and why, and discuss some of the bottom teams and what they may have to do to make it a positive season. I believe that in the end it's all about having nothing to lose or having everything to lose.At the top of my 'teams that will tank' list is obviously the Denver Broncos. (As if they haven't tanked already.) The Broncos showed their youth and lack of depth on Sunday against the lowly Redskins. Brian Dawkins is the key to that defense and without him they are not a top rated defense. Now, with Kyle Orton and Brandon Marshall being injured, they have to rely on Chris Simms to pull the weight. Did I mention that Correll Buckhalter was also injured. Now you have a rookie running back to push the rock. I am not saying that they will tank because of the absence of these guys because they all plan on coming back. But anymore injuries and they'll be relying on a lot of backups to get the job done.There is plenty to lose in the mile high city.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are next on my list. They've shown that some good defensive line play is an easy way to throw off Ben Rothlisberger. Their defense is really too good for me to even be classifying them in this category, however, Troy Polamalu's absense is a huge weakness obviously. As the season wears on I believe that that defense will tire and teams will be able to get small leads and hold on for victories. Still probably a playoff team but they will most likely be a wild card with the division leading Bengals looking for a division sweep. Pittsburgh, being the reigning champ, has everything to lose.
The Dallas Cowboys can be thrown into this category for obvious reasons. Tony Romo's inconsistancy and Wade Phillips inability to see a team ANYWHERE are my main reasons. They have a better defense this year and have ridden that defense to where they are. The Giants have tanked already and so have the Eagles and that is why I believe they are on top of that division. I don't expect things to stay that way. Both the Eagles and Giants have supperior coaches and players. I expect the Cowboys to miss the playoffs again this year and ol' Wade's head will be the one rolling. Both him and Tony Romo have everything to lose in the Big D.
The top team on my 'nothing to lose' list is the Tennessee Titans. Vince young is now the starting QB and one reason he is the starter is because the Titans had nothing to lose. Chris Johnson is arguably the best weapon in the NFL. The have five losses and are really still in the hunt for a wildcard. I really don't expect them to make it to the playoffs because there are just to many holes in the defense. They're really missing Haynesworth, but right now they're playing with nothing to lose and that's why I see this team progressing and being an elite force in 2010.
Being as bias as I am and talking about this on my favorite Chiefs web site I HAVE to add them to this list. The Chiefs have huge issues but I believe they have the right things to give us somethings to look forward to for 2010. Jamall Charles is my new favorite player. I have never thought that he had the ability to be a full time starter. I always saw him as a Darren Sproles type of threat. He will be a big key to making the offense work in the future. The defensive line, IMO, is looking really sharp. Glen Dorsey has stepped up his game and I expect TJ to do the same. There is no reason to hold back anymore on defense and, as much as I don't like Clancy Pendercast, I think he knows that. There is nothing to lose in KC and I expect to see some progress.
St. Louis is last on my list. Steven Jackson is the man. He is a beast and can pull an offense. He almost beat the undefeated Saints. I think they have a young core of talented WRs. If the o-line can step it up that offense could be deadly. Defensively they have a couple top draft picks that haven't really showed that. I think that they are going to realize that they must step up. Spagnolo should help in this type of transition and they will become much better. They've got nothing to lose other than their position on the draft board and apparently that won't help them anyway so expect the Rams to show their stuff.
Thats all I got folks. Comment and let me know what your picks are.