Each season there are a handful of teams that drive Las Vegas crazy. These are the teams that could win somewhere between 6 and 11 games, a range that separates the horrible bottom-feeders from Super Bowl contenders. Heading into the 2012-2013 season, here are four of those teams and predictions on where they will finish in the wins column.
The Dallas Cowboys, aka — America’s Team (are we still calling them this), have been a team of promise and disappointment over the past two seasons. Their checklist for 2012 was/is simple. FIRST: Tighten up the defense. The Cowboys used the draft to shore up their secondary and should be effective in the area they were most prone to attack last season. CHECK! SECOND: Get healthy. At this point (very early) it appears the team is healthy, as with any team looking to compete in the post-season, this will need to continue. CHECK (for now). THIRD: Breakout (or continued breakout) seasons from their offensive weapons Laurent Robinson, Dez Bryant, and DeMarco Murray. Tony Romo can’t do it by himself, this is a fact that has been proven over and over again. He will need to up-and-comers to lead the way and give a major assist to the veterans on this offense.
PREDICTION: 11 wins, NFC Championship game (lose)
After an incredible turnaround season that featured a hot offense led by star quarterback (Matthew Stafford) and Mega-Tron (Calvin Johnson), it looked like the Lions were headed in the right direction. Never mind the historical data that shows overachieving teams regressing the next year, instead let’s look at the active Lions off-season.
• Jan. 23: Culbreath, a seventh-rounder out of South Carolina State, was charged with simple possession of marijuana after he was caught on a hotel security camera placing two blunts in a hallway dresser. After his arrest, he appeared later in the day before an Orangeburg County magistrate in South Carolina and paid a $412 fine.
• Feb. 18: Leshoure, a second-rounder out of Illinois, was ticketed for possession of marijuana after Benton Township police pulled over his BMW on I-94 around 6 a.m. for driving 92 m.p.h. in a 70-m.p.h. zone. He appeared in court March 1, pleaded to a lesser charge of use of marijuana and paid $485 in fines.
• March 12: Leshoure got his second ticket for possession when the rental Mitsubishi Endeavor SUV he was a passenger in was pulled over for failing to use its turn signal on I-94 in Berrien County. He was charged with possession/second offense, a felony punishable by up to two years in prison. He admitted to police he was smoking marijuana and tried to eat the evidence. On May 11, he pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of misdemeanor possession of marijuana. He paid $575 in fines and will be required next May to show proof of compliance with a treatment program conducted through the NFL. His attorney told the judge that his client was in a 24-month program that required drug tests two to three times a week and substance-abuse counseling.
• April 3: Fairley, the 13th overall pick out of Auburn, was arrested around 12:30 p.m. near his home in Mobile, Ala., after neighbors complained he was speeding up and down the street. He was charged with second-degree possession of marijuana, a misdemeanor. His arraignment was adjourned May 14 to give his attorney more time to review the case. The attorney told the judge that Fairley was in a first-step substance-abuse program with the NFL, according to the Mobile Press-Register. A hearing is scheduled for July 31.
• May 27: Fairley was arrested by Alabama State troopers outside Mobile after they say he passed a police car on I-10 at 1:13 a.m. traveling 100 m.p.h. in a Cadillac Escalade. He was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol and attempting to elude police. He also was issued traffic citations for reckless driving, no proof of insurance and open container. Fairley’s arraignment is scheduled for June 28.
• June 23: Cornerback Aaron Berry was charged with driving under the influence, two counts of accidents involving unattended vehicles and two counts of failure to stop and render aid leaving the scene of an accident in Harrisburg, Pa.
PREDICTION: 5 Wins, 4 Convictions
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
Here’s the thing with Kansas City, they were desecrated with injuries last year and still played hard for a new coach at the end of the season. Matt Cassel is back and Jamaal Charles is primed for a big year. The division now features The Peyton Manning led Broncos, a defensive minded Raiders team, and the San Diego Chargers which are always tough. Despite the key QB and RB potential what does this equal? Another rough year for the Chiefs. They will need to play their asses off just to win 8 games. Oh, and let’s not forget about their other issues around their up-the-gut “find-the-hole” defense and an aging secondary. And for those still not sure, no, cornerback Brandon Flowers is NOT the lead singer for The Killers. Two different guys.
PREDICTION: 6 Wins (actual), 9 “Moral” victories, No new Killers album
NEW YORK JETS
The New York Jets will be saved by their new quarterback. NO, not Tim Tebow, the NEW Mark Sanchez! The Jets had a great draft, adding a pass rusher and safety. No reality show, drama, or HBO special will hold more interest than the Mark Sanchez vs. Tim Tebow quarterback relationship. I believe Tebow’s presence will have a positive spin on Sanchez and the team as a whole. Last year the team lacked in chemistry – which was strange given this was a key the previous two seasons. The Jets are hoping Tebow brings back this magic. Looking at their schedule the first few weeks will be most difficult, if they can get through that they can forget about last year and get back to where they belong, losing the AFC Championship game!
PREDICTION: 10 Wins, AFC Championship game (lose)
David S. Grant is the author of “Blood: The New Red”, follow David on Twitter @david_s_grant.
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