Every year we have several teams move up and surprise us (Falcons, Dolphins, Ravens in '08) and teams that come way below expectations (Jaguars, Cowboys, Chargers); Here my list for teams that will dissapoint for '09, please share your thoughts:
Below Expectations: Normally a team has high potential for dissapointment when some of these factor coincide: Pumped Up Shedule, Loss of Diference making star players, Loss of Key coaches, complacency.
1) Tenneesee Titans: Lets start with the Loss of Albert Haynesworth, the titans played almost exclusively a 4 man rush, leaving them the luxury of 7 coverage/pursuit personel; the loss of Haynesworth means that gameplan gets scrapped. Add the fact you have a new DC in Blaine Bishop so you have a major loss of talent and add a steep learning curve for the entire defense. Add a first place schedule that includes: Indianapolis (2), Pittsburgh, San Diego, Miami, Arizona and the improving Texans. To many factors against a team that will not have a good offense and defense may give up 5-6 points more per game. Ask the chargers how much a dominant player can affect a defense.
2) Miami Dolphins: Keep it simple stupid!!!, The Schedule is brutal: New England (2), Pittsburgh, San Diego, Tennessee, Carolina, Atlanta, New Orleans, New York Jets (2), Houston. That means that the 2 games with Buffalo are the only 2 games versus a team with a losing record in '08.
3) New York Giants: Simple reality: 9-1 with Plaxico / 3-4 without Plaxico, they have the most inexperienced WR core in the NFL and that is position with probably the second highest learning curve to QB in the NFL. Add the fact of a nasty schedule (Philly (2), Dallas (2), Washington (2), Carolina, Arizona & San Diego) and a new DC to replace the brilliant Steve Spagnuolo sounds like to many factors against the G-men. Simply said Eli Manning must prove he can carry below par talent and I'm not buying.
4) Carolina Panthers: Same as the Dolphins the schedule is a meat grinder: Atlanta (2), New Orleans (2), Arizona, New York Giants, New England, Miami, New York Jets. Add the fact that Jake Delhomme appears to be hitting the downside of his career and the pass coverage got exposed when facing good QB's and they sure a lot more teams with good QB's in '09 than '08.
5) Baltimore Ravens: Once again the schedule just doesn't look at favorable 5 games versus the AFC Elite (Pittsburgh (2), Indy, New England, San Diego) leaves very little room for mistakes for the rest of the schedule. Add the loss of Bart Scott and DC Rex Ryan it should be enough to push the Ravens into 8-9 win category.
These are my five dissapointing, I'll add my five surprises later, please give me your thougts.