- Ukraine will compete in Sochi Paralympics despite Crimea conflict
- DHS accused of holding U.S. citizen at airport, using emails to pry into her sex life
- Seattle socialist: Minimum-wage discussion skewed by ‘right-wing’ GAO analysis
- U.N. warns of Muslim ‘cleansing’ in Central African Republic
- Senate blocks change to military sex assault cases
- Drug mix may have cured child born with HIV, doctors say
- De Blasio’s wife irks former mansion chef with ‘servant’ remark
- Russia’s neighbors shiver amid Putin’s Cold War moves in Ukraine
- New SAT: The essay portion is to become optional
- Military group can’t march to honor the fallen at Boston Marathon due to security changes
2010 NFL preview capsules
It’s been more than a decade since the Bills made the playoffs. That streak won’t end this season. They simply are overmatched in this division.
Chan Gailey, whose success as the Cowboys‘ coach tends to get overlooked, is an offensive mastermind. Buffalo was 30th on offense in ‘09 thanks to a porous line, inconsistent quarterbacking and unproductive wideouts. Gailey was hired to work some magic with QB Trent Edwards, who does have one solid target in Lee Evans. Edwards doesn’t have Terrell Owens on hand anymore; you be the judge on that one.
The Bills already have been ravaged by injuries in the preseason, and they weren’t particularly deep beforehand. They will need superb special teams, something they usually have, and a much-improved run defense to manage even the six victories of last season.
One team looking up with good reason is Baltimore, which eliminated the Patriots _ at New England, no less _ in the playoffs last season. RB Ray Rice had a breakout season and QB Joe Flacco made great progress. Both should benefit from the addition of WR Anquan Boldin, the most dangerous receiver the Ravens have had in years, and slot man T.J Houshmandzadeh.
This still will be a run-first team with Rice, Willis McGahee and Le'Ron McClain. But with Boldin, the ageless Derrick Mason, Houshmandzadeh, Donte’ Stallworth (when he recovers from a broken left foot), and TE Todd Heap, Flacco has plenty to work with on offense.
If the Ravens solve some issues in the secondary, which has been hit by injuries, they should be a Super Bowl contender. Their front seven is terrific, and great linebacker Ray Lewis isn’t even their best player. DT Haloti Ngata is.
Bungles no longer, Cincinnati won the division last season, sweeping its six games within the AFC North with a strong running game and solid defense. But the team was too conservative with the ball and got ousted by the wild-card Jets in the playoff opener.
Adding Terrell Owens will bring spice to the offense, not to mention to the locker room. If Carson Palmer gets protection and a tight end emerges _ watch rookie Jermaine Gresham _ Cincinnati should score more points and create some excitement. Of course, can T.O. and Chad Ochocinco shelve their egos and share the ball, particularly with RB Cedric Benson a focal point of the attack?
The defense has several emerging players, led by DE Antwan Odom, who comes off an Achilles’ tendon injury that cut short a superb 2009, and cornerbacks Leon Hall and Johnathan Joseph. Still, Cincy might need another clean sweep of the division games to finish first.
In going from Super Bowl champions to also-rans, albeit at 9-7, the Steelers lost their consistency on both sides of the ball. They won five straight, then lost five in a row before closing with three victories.
By Tammy Bruce
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