• It has become an annual rite of spring for the NFL to fall head over heels in love with one upwardly mobile franchise and bestow it with favored-son status on schedule-release day, but has the league and its omnipresent TV cameras ever swooned for anybody like the brash-talking
If you surmised we all might be suffering a little Jets fatigue by the time New York's preseason run on HBO's
All told, the Jets have three Monday night games, the Sunday night date against the Dolphins, and a Thanksgiving night showdown at home against the Bengals, their opponent in last year's first-round of the playoffs. Mix in four more games that are currently slated for late-afternoon Sunday kickoffs, and thus eligible for mass distribution as a network's second half of a doubleheader, and the Jets will seemingly be everywhere, all the time in 2010.
"I think the league is smart,'' the never-bashful Ryan said on ESPN Tuesday night, only half joking. "They're not going to put just an average team on prime time. They know what's up. It's an opportunity for us to shine on prime time and show the country what we're all about. We're ready for it. We're excited about this opportunity and I think the country is going to be glad to watch the New York Jets.''
We don't disagree, Rex. New York's late-season resurgence and playoff run was as entertaining a story as there was in the league in 2009. But one reminder is worth mentioning: The past two years, the NFL has shined its brightest spotlight on Cleveland (five primetime games in 2008) and Miami (four in 2009), and neither the Browns nor Dolphins lived up to that show of confidence by the league office. They both finished with losing records and missed the playoffs.
• I applaud NFL commissioner
Falling under the not so much category would be Bears at Packers, Dolphins at Patriots, Bills at Jets, Bucs at Saints, Bengals at Ravens, Rams at Seahawks, Vikings at Lions, Panthers at Falcons, Giants at Redskins, Raiders at Chiefs, Steelers at Browns and Jaguars at Texans.
But that's just my guesswork. Your results may vary.
• If you're working on the presumption of a four-game suspension being the over-under for Steelers quarterback
I can see the Steelers finding a way to win at home in the opener against Atlanta, and in Week 3 at Tampa Bay (especially now that they have acquired ex-Bucs starter and Steelers backup
The NFL might have done Pittsburgh a favor with a Week 5 bye, if the Steelers are in position to get Roethlisberger back and ready to play against visiting Cleveland in Week 6.
• I know we underestimate
That's a grind for a guy who'll be 41 by the end of that run.
• We're a little short on coaching reunion/revenge games this year, because there are only three new head coaches and nothing real juicy lines up. Washington's
About the best subplot we've got is Kansas City's
• While we don't get the pleasure of seeing Carroll compete against the two NFL teams that hired and hastily fired him in years gone by, his Seahawks do face the Cardinals twice (Weeks 7 and 10) and the Saints once (Week 11). And that means two chances to defense the passing of ex-USC quarterback and Heisman winner
Personally, I was rooting for Seattle vs. the Jets so Carroll and
• It's Cowboys-Eagles in Week 17 for the third consecutive year, and this one shapes up as the rubber match, in Philly. In 2008, Dallas was drubbed by the Eagles in Philadelphia in the regular-season finale and missed the playoffs, nearly costing
• Looks like Thanksgiving Day might actually be worth some couch time for the first time in what seems like quite a while. The NFL obviously prioritized getting more of its glamour teams to play on the holiday, as New England at Detroit, New Orleans at Dallas, and Cincinnati at the Jets illustrates.
• The Bengals are my early choice for the 2009 playoff team that will definitely take a step back in 2010. Cincy has the league's fourth-hardest schedule, facing opponents that went a combined 138-118 last year, good for a .539 winning percentage.
The Bengals have seven games against playoff teams from last year, and that doesn't count their two always-tough division games against Pittsburgh. Cincy also draws San Diego at home and the Colts on the road in its two intraconference games, and that's what you get with a first-place schedule. The Bengals travel to New England, the Jets, and Atlanta, and get visits from Miami and New Orleans.
That spells 7-9 to me.
• The other 2009 playoff club that will have a difficult time matching last year's success is Minnesota, which went 12-4 last season. The Vikings have eight games against playoff teams from a year ago, and they play Arizona and are at New Orleans in their intraconference games -- two of the five teams to beat Minnesota at some point last year.
• If Houston is finally for real and intent on shedding its reputation for wilting in its biggest games, then 2010 will provide an excellent chance to prove it. The Texans on paper have the NFL's toughest schedule, with a 140-116 opponents record (.547). Houston has seven games against playoff teams from 2009, 11 games against clubs that finished at .500 or better last year, and its two intraconference games are against Baltimore and the Jets -- two pretty good second-place teams in 2009.
It's a very good thing that Texans head coach
• Just wondering, but will
Will it be