For the NFL and its loyal following of pigskin pundits, there really isn’t much of an offseason anymore.
By the time everybody shakes off the Super Bowl hangover, the draft is already looming on the calendar. Not long after that, minicamps and OTAs are underway and we’re back at the grind.
We’ve had more than enough big news to digest since we last saw a meaningful snap, so let’s review some of the teams that improved the most.
These are in no particular order and are obviously full of my opinions and biases. Enjoy.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Season win over/under: 6 (-120)
Josh Freeman won’t have any excuse if he can’t bounce back from a tough year last season. Vincent Jackson provides the No. 1 wideout he has been lacking and veteran tight end Dallas Clark won’t hurt either. Guard Carl Nicks should open up some holes for the running game and corner Eric Wright should pair with Aqib Talib nicely. Looks like new coach Greg Schiano will have lots of new blood to help turn this club around.
Buffalo Bills – Season win over/under: 7.5 (over -140)
Bringing in Mario Williams obviously can’t be overstated, but when you combine him with Mark Anderson on the other side of the line, Buffalo’s pass rush should be nasty. Throw in first-round Stephon Gilmore at corner and you could have one of the better defenses in the AFC. Wideout T.J. Graham’s speed could lessen the loss of Roscoe Parish, who moved on to the Chargers.
Chicago Bears – Season win over/under: 8.5 (over -160)
The Bears finally pulled the plug on the Mike Martz Experiment and welcomed Mike Tice in as the offensive coordinator. Tice will have a lot more weapons in the tickle trunk with Brandon Marshall rejoining quarterback Jay Cutler and running back Michael Bush coming over from Oakland. Add in Alshon Jeffery’s speed at wideout and Jason Campbell holding the clipboard for Cutler and, if nothing else, the Bears are much deeper than they’ve been in a long time. Then again, they still don’t have much of an offensive line, so Tice still has his work cut out for him.
Denver Broncos – Season win over/under: 9.5 (under -125)
Call me an optimist, but I love Peyton Manning as a Denver Bronco. It was a tough move to make with Tebowmania going wild and Manning’s obvious health concerns. Just think of the upside, though. Most reports indicate the veteran’s already throwing the ball pretty well and if he can stay healthy, Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker are going to be dynamite. The Broncos’ own pass defense should be better with Tracy Porter and Mike Adams in the secondary too.
Dallas Cowboys – Season win over/under: 8.5 (over -135)
The Cowboys knew they had issues with their secondary and didn’t waste any time addressing those concerns. They traded up to draft Morris Clairborne with the No. 6 overall pick and then grabbed Brandon Carr on the free agent market. Carr has already turned some heads in team workouts with his toughness and work ethic – two attributes rarely bestowed upon anybody in the Dallas secondary recently.
Washington Redskins – Season win over/under: 6.5 (under -140)
OK, taking Robert Griffin II with the second pick in the draft was a no-brainer, but the rest of Washington’s moves showed some due diligence. Pierre Garcon gives RGIII another decent outside threat to go along with Santana Moss, so they shouldn’t miss Donte Stallworth or Jabar Gaffney. Meanwhile, London Fletcher is still around to lead a defense that also added Cedric Griffin and Brandon Meriweather to the secondary.
Odds courtesy SportsInteraction.com.