The hype machine is working at full capacity in the NFL. You don’t have to look to hard to find someone who is optimistic about virtually every team in the NFL – every single one is poised for big things if you believe the hype. Not every team can be successful, though, so unless the rules have changed this year many of those teams are going to be disappointments because the hype just doesn’t match reality. Based on a combination of future odds and media coverage here are four teams that are getting more love than I think they deserve. Yes, I am calling them overrated:
Indianapolis Colts (17/2) – The AFC is tough this year because while I am not convinced that the Colts are the best team in the conference I’m not at all sure who else is instead. It’s not really shaping up as an overwhelming year for the conference – at least not in comparison to the ridiculously powerful recent glory years. While I would put the Colts among the handful of elite teams in the league I struggle with having them favored by this much. The biggest issue I have is, surprisingly, at quarterback. Peyton Manning is as good as it gets, but he’s getting older and any guy can get injured and miss time. The Colts’ have the most pathetic backup situation of any serious contender in the league. Any game that Manning misses is likely a loss. They also don’t have a particularly scary running game – again – and there are some questions on defense. I respect this team, but I keep reading that they are better than ever, and I just don’t see it.
Minnesota Vikings (12/1) – Let’s look at this honestly – the guy is ancient, he has a lousy attitude, his teammates can’t help but feel at least a bit of resentment towards him – resentment that could easily fester if things go badly, and the ankle isn’t all it should be. Beyond Favre and his destructive potential there are a couple of harsh realities – two of his most potent and preferred receiving options are big question marks, and his all-World running back seems to be questioning his confidence to some extent. The idea that Favre is the difference between a Super Bowl and bust with this team is so insulting to the intelligence that it’s laughable. Anyone with access to a Vikings under 10 season win total line still, should be betting all they can get down on this one.
New York Jets (12/1) – Writing this article is putting me in a bad mood, and thinking about what I hear about the Jets this year really caps that off. I will eat my shirt if the Jets win the Super Bowl. Frankly, I’m not entirely convinced that they are going to make the playoffs. They have built a team around a stunning number of egos, and many of those egos are attached to guys who used to be better than they are. Their best defensive player held out and missed all of the preseason and that can’t help but impact the team. Their quarterback gets compared to Joe Namath 600 times a day, but the biggest difference is that despite the adoration Sanchez has yet to show that he has the game to match his personality. There were moments last year, but his overall performance was much closer to JaMarcus Russell as a rookie than people would like to admit. I’m not saying that he won’t turn into a good quarterback, and maybe a great one. I’m just saying that it will take time and patience, and I am not at all convinced that this team is capable of being patient. The Jets have taken some bold gambles, and I just don’t believe they will pay off.
Chicago Bears (35/1) – At first glance this might seem like an attractive price. After all, they have upgraded their defense, and they have Jay Cutler. The reason I hate this team at almost any price, though, is that they have Jay Cutler. People have come to their senses a bit after his performance last year, but there are still big expectations for the pivot – as if last year was just an adjustment period. They brought Mike Martz in to work with him. I respect Mike Martz a lot, and the Rams offense in the glory days was the best I will ever see, Martz has failed to capture magic several times since, though, and Cutler is certainly no Kurt Warner. The Bears made a fundamental mistake with Cutler, and this year will continue the pain that that move has caused and will continue to.