9. Detroit Lions: What are the expectations for Coach Jones in his first season back? After missing season 1, will Coach Jones be able to keep up with the rest of the coaches? The Lions have the pieces to compete in the elusive Barry Sanders but, can he stay on the field long enough to make an impact? The key is getting teams to respect the passing game of the Lions in order to free up Barry but, that' going to take a lot of work against a couple of top tier teams in their division that crush the run.
8. St Louis Rams: Coach Smutnik pulled no wins at all. Not a sausage. What does an 0-8 season net you in the NFTGL? Stan Humphries, Lee Woodall, and a little known corner back named Deion Sanders. I would dare say a certain team in Green might have sacrificed their one win to have a shot at landing a top flight DB like Sanders. Will the influx of talent help the often known Lambs finally achieve their horns? It'll take practice and hard work as they reside in the division that contains the ManBowl winner and ManBowl chump. We're not sure if Coach Smutnik has that kinda drive.
7. Green Bay Packers: One win in season 1 against the worst team in the league and swept by a newbie. The off-season was sweet to the Pack who were able to address a need at LB by picking up Pepper Johnson and also solidify their safety position by sending Leroy Butler for perennial pro bowler Henry Jones BUT, the only way this team does anything is to practice. They were already a solid team prior to these moves and certainly worthy of more than 1 man win. Is Coach Lutton's Lambs touch rubbing off on one of the greatest franchises in NFL history? Does he yearn to win? Season 2 will say a lot as the Packers got much better while the rest of their division stayed basically the same.
6. Minnesota Vikings: One of the NKotB scores two wins in his inaugural season. Those people that were there for those wins will attest that these were less about the play and more about the luck involved though so, perhaps an off-season of practice and training will help the Vikings win some games with skill and less duck? Only time will tell!
5. Atlanta Falcons: How do you wash out the ugly taste of losing a playoff game to a computer game? Coach Soffer is hoping that signing two strong offensive linemen is that way since the off-season didn't go his way otherwise. Coach Soffer managed to kick his offense into another gear this year, scoring the most points he's ever averaged in league history with the widest disparity between points scored and points against. You have to look at that as a good sign of him starting to get a grip on the team he has. While his two man wins were both against a new comer, he played some heated and intense games against the top 3--Coach Soffer knows he can hold his own--it might just be a question of whether he can continue his consistency along the offensive front.
4. Chicago Bears: The Bears were quiet this offseason. They upgraded both of their quarterbacks and while they still haven't addressed a glaring need at linebacker, they bring back a collection of corners lead by the monstrous Mark Carrier and Donnell Wolford. Is it enough? The Bears lost the same three games that the Buc's lost, though by more in each case. Coach Fonovic's team gave up more points on average then it scored last year and also gave up more yards then he gained. This is a trend the Bears will need to break out of if they want to become more then an easy first round opponent.
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Dem's da breaks. First time shut out in 5 minute quarters... and it just so happened to occur on the biggest stage. An off-season without getting any trades. Losing a bad game to the ManBowl Champs that ultimately flipped the seeding in the playoffs.
Dem's da breaks.
Does Coach Pine still have the fire to keep this team mucking along? Second best points against and best yards against on D and the third most potent offense... but only three minor signings in FA.
Dem's da breaks.
2. New Orleans Saints: The ManBowl chumps. The first losers.
That’s what people want to think of a team that didn't bring home the final prize but... those people would be mistaken. This is a dangerous team that comes back stronger than last season. Adding Clyde Simmons to the second best team in defensive yards per game (and #1 in points against per game) isn't too bad a move. Did we mention that they were second in points scored? No, I don't believe many teams will be calling them ManBowl chumps as the Saints prepare for Season 2. They'll become speed bumps on Coach Bordier's way to attempting to deliver on a promise he made in Season 1: To bring the belt home.
1. Carolina Panthers: I guess you've gotta list the ManBowl Champs here, right? They brought the heat and ran the table (well...if you forget about that tie), winning the first Man Bowl of the brand new NFTGL. Making a nice move in the off-season to improve the quarterback position, there isn't any reason why this team can't be back in the ManBowl. Coach Lutton has a pretty rigorous off-season regiment that is only topped by one other coach so--perhaps a rematch in the ManBowl is a safe bet?
8. Detroit Lions - First season back and this can't be much of a surprise. The Lions are trying to get into a flow but, they've dropped their first two man games and, aside from a duck duck comeback against the Bucs, they haven't been running on all cylinders (if you ignore Barry Sanders... who somehow is still healthy). The Lions will need to make a run and a half to keep it going
7. Atlanta Falcons - I guess losing to the Rams isn't so bad anymore? He's got one man win against the Lions but, the Falcons are letting the pressure build up on them. The lack of return game hurts and the injuries to Jeff George (if they keep coming) aren't going to help but, if this team can do the basics (grip up on D and smash the ball down the middle), they could sneak into the playoffs.
6. Minnesota Vikings - A great show of running the football against the Buc's hasn't turned into anything else yet. The Vikings may have stolen one from the perenial division winners but, if they can't beat anyone else, they'll be at the bottom looking up still.
5. Chicago Bears - This is the same team every year. I'm done.
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Opening game disappontment against the Vikings and a tight game against the Boys left people wondering about this Bucs team...but 2 straight man wins maybe have gotten this game back on track. We don't know anymore. The best part of this teams game has been their D and that hasn't shown up yet. Will it? They'll need it to in order to move forward!
3. St Louis Rams - No one could have predicted worst to first...and well, we're not there yet. But being the first person to take down the defending Man Bowl champ? Yeah. That's impressive. Losing by 33 to the Saints? Some work needs to be done here but, we love the raw ability thats being shaped.
2. Carolina Panthers - ouch!
1. New Orleans Saints - Still the Panthers bitch but... maybe the team to beat isn't the Panthers this year? Another tight game against the Panthers though will make for another wicked showdown in the rubber match later in the season (we're talking about the playoffs). This will either be the Saint's chance to strike or its more of the same first loser disappointment. Only the second half will tell.