- Outrage as Air Force base in South Carolina boots Nativity scene
- Israel poised for a $173M boost from the U.S. for missile defense
- Leon Panetta named as source of ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ scriptwriter’s information
- Mandela service sign language interpreter: ‘He made up his own signs’
- Pope Francis named Time’s ‘Person of the Year’
- Ben Affleck: Fundraising for Democrats started to ‘feel gross’
- Vladimir Putin orders military to boost presence in Arctic
- Brooklyn, N.Y.: ‘Lesbian capital’ of the Northeast
- Elian Gonzalez: It’s America’s fault that my mother died
- India top court rules homosexuality is illegal
2010 NFL preview capsules
They begin this season without QB Ben Roethlisberger, and his suspension could damage their chances of getting into the playoffs again. With Byron Leftwich injured, Dennis Dixon is the nominal starter. But he doesn’t have the winning experience of a Roethlisberger. At least he has some nice helpers in WRs Hines Ward and Mike Wallace, TE Heath Miller, RB Rashard Mendenhall and the returning WR-KR Antwaan Randle El. Losing OT Willie Colon for the season hurts.
Pittsburgh’s meltdown in pass defense was directly attributable to the absence of S Troy Polamalu, one of the league’s five most valuable players. He’s healthy now and ready to rock opponents, with the help of fellow safety Ryan Clark and LBs LaMarr Woodley (13 1/2 sacks), James Harrison (10) and Lawrence Timmons (7).
Once Mike Holmgren took charge of the sputtering Browns, things began looking up. The breakthrough might not come for another season _ when, perhaps, Holmgren returns to coaching. For now, the team president is giving Eric Mangini one more chance.
Cleveland won its last four games in 2009, although only Pittsburgh was a decent opponent. Still, the Browns were a mess in all areas but special teams, where All-Pro Joshua Cribbs is among the league’s most dangerous performers.
Jake Delhomme has replaced Derek Anderson and Brady Quinn at quarterback, trying to resurrect his career. He doesn’t have much talent surrounding him, and the defense could be just as bad, although LB Scott Fujita must have seen something he likes _ he left the Saints for Cleveland.
Hard to find much to fault here. Sure, they lost the Super Bowl, but the Colts were the NFL’s elite team over the 17-week season. Had new coach Jim Caldwell _ talk about successful transitions _ not rested his regulars in the final 1 1/2 games, Indy might have gone into the playoffs undefeated.
Peyton Manning sets the pace for all quarterbacks. Make that all players. The NFL’s only four-time MVP is a favorite for a fifth award, surrounded by the strongest cast on offense in the conference. That cast will be deeper with the return of WR Anthony Gonzalez from a knee injury, and with the further maturation of RB Donald Brown to complement Joseph Addai. The line allowed just 13 sacks in 2009, and Manning will weave his magic to WRs Reggie Wayne, Austin Collie and Pierre Garcon, and TE Dallas Clark.
Nobody can expect the Colts to keep that pace on defense, but if they rank in the middle of the league overall and improve their 24th-rated run D, home-field advantage for the playoffs easily is within reach. Key defenders Dwight Freeney, Gary Brackett and Antoine Bethea must stay healthy and Brackett has a right hand injury.
By Donald Lambro
Growth spikes are little more than trend-free anomalies
- Teen thugs in DC run wild -- even while wearing GPS ankle bracelets
- New budget accord saves $23 billion -- after $65 billion spending spree
- More than a quarter million sign up for Obamacare in November
- VEGAS RULES: Harry Reid pushed feds to change ruling for casino's big-money foreigners
- Obama takes 'selfie' at Mandela's funeral service
- CARSON: Why did the founders give us the Second Amendment?
- FITTON: A closer look at the Benghazi lie
- Obama's antics at Nelson Mandela tribute: Jovial conversation, handshake with Raul Castro
- Gov't Motors: Obama fudges math on auto bailout, $10.5 billion loss for taxpayers
- Somber duty: U.S. presidents in hot demand at Mandela's memorial
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