Clint's Corner Archive

Clint's Corner Archive

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The source for back issues of Clint's Corner. Forget a trade? Were Clint's predictions correct? Here's every edition, verbatim.

For 8/1/1996

NFL '96 - As seen by Clint

AFC East AFC Central AFC West
Buffalo: 11-5 Pittsburgh: 10-6 Denver: 11-5
New England: 10-6 Cincinnati: 7-9 Kansas City: 11-5
Indianapolis: 9-7 Houston: 6-10 Oakland: 10-6
Miami: 7-9 Baltimore: 5-11 Seattle: 9-7
N.Y. Jets: 5-11 Jacksonville: 3-13 San Diego: 7-9
NFC East NFC Central NFC West
Philadelphia: 11-5 Green Bay: 13-3 San Francisco: 12-4
Dallas: 10-6 Chicago: 10-6 Atlanta: 10-6
N.Y. Giants: 7-9 Tampa Bay: 7-9 St. Louis: 7-9
Washington: 6-10 Detroit: 6-10 Carolina: 6-10
Arizona: 3-13 Minnesota: 5-11 New Orleans: 6-10

AFC East

Buffalo - The core of the Super Bowl teams is still largely intact. Veteran leadership on both sides of the ball makes the returning AFC East Champs favorites to repeat in '96. The key to this season is their health and their ability to stay focused on football only. If either Kelley, Thomas, or Smith misses any significant playing time, this bunch could slide big time. It also doesn't help that Smith cares more about his contract than he does about his team.

New England - OK, OK, I'm looking through my red, white and blue glasses here. Did you think I'd pick them to finish last? With an average age of 25.6 years, and only 4 players over 30, this team has the talent to win the division, but as they showed last year, the inexperience to finish near the bottom. Parcells won't let them fall asleep this year. Just when everyone is talking offense, this team will ride to glory on their defense. The unit is completely overhauled from last years 28th ranked squad, and it showed in the preseason.

Indianapolis - This bunch scares me. Eleven or more wins is not out of the question. They are the classic example of how 52 average players and Marshall Faulk can succeed when they work together. Ted Marchibroda won't be missed. Lindy Infante is an improvement. Look for Harbaugh to come back to earth, and for the Colts to be a very solid second tier team. If they expect to sweep the Pats again, then Tony Mandarich has been sharing his steroids.

Miami - Jimmy Johnson won't say it, but he is rebuilding. The roster he inherited was good, but not good enough to win it all and it wasn't getting any younger. Johnson has started the youth movement he began in Dallas when he went from 1-15 to back-to-back Super Bowls. Marino is still great, but gone are Duper, Clayton, and now Fryar, with no one to step in and fill the void. If the defense can't stop the run, this sqaud will be lucky to play .500 ball.

New York Jets - Neil O'Donnell? Please. Boomer Esiason was a good QB for them, but he couldn't do it alone. With Boomer in there, the Jets very (very) nearly beat the Pats, Bills, and Colts. Even Bubby Brister beat the Dolphins. O'Donnell is not the messiah the Jets were looking for. Like Terry Glenn, Keyshawn Johnson missed too much of training camp to make a big difference this year. Only a miracle can keep the Jets out of the cellar again in the East.

AFC Central

Pittsburgh - Like I just said... Neil O'Donnell? The Steelers were wise to save their $5 Million and go with Jim Miller. Ron Erhardt also will not be missed. Bill Cower ran that offense and everyone in Pennsylvania can tell you that. The Steelers did it last year without a great running back, and unless Pitt is laden with the curse of Marion Butts, Jerome Bettis should provide the big thump the Steel city needs to win yet another division title.

Cincinnati - Houston may be a better team, but at least the Bengals have a home field advantage for 8 games this season. Playing .500 ball may be enough in this division to finish second. Jeff Blake has proven to be a very capable QB (released by the Jets,by the way), and he has a very talented array of wide receivers to work with. The problem here is defense. They will lose a lot of games in which they score 28 or more points.

Houston - You have to feel bad for this city and their players. Bud Adams has hit the jackpot in Nashville, but the Astrodome lease keeps them in Houston for one more year. If the Pats had one year left, even I wouldn't go to the games. Are you listening Paul Tagliabue Too bad, 'cause this bunch was ready to make some noise. An improving defense coupled with Eddie George and Steve McNair on offense could have been fun. Cleveland will tell you what such a distraction can do... The Browns were pre-season favorites to win the AFC before Snake Modell announced the move.

Baltimore - Speak of the Devil! Regardless of how the Ravens do, Art Modell is still filthy rich and he has about 5 million people in Ohio who want him dead. This franchise does not even deserve a write up. Enough said.

Jacksonville - As much as I will root for Tom Coughlin's gang to finish ahead of the Ravens, I just can't see it. Teams around the league will not let these expansion teams sneak up on them again. The honeymoon is over. Unlike Carolina, however, Coughlin is laying a solid foundation of young talent for the future. He has invested heavily in the offensive line, a staple of any championship team. The Jag's time will come, just not yet.

AFC West

Denver - I know, I know, no defense. If Michael Dean Perry and Bill Romanowski can keep things close, Elway will find a way to win. Elway's the guy you love to hate, but you'd kill to have him on your team. This team is too talented on offense to lose. I am going way against conventional wisdom here and picking the Broncos to battle with the Chiefs and Raiders for the division crown.

Kansas City - The Chiefs aren't that good - they just win. They may go 11-5, but 8 of those wins will be in overtime, 3 of which will be won by the special teams unit. Marcus Allen IS old, and it will finally show this year. Steve Bono doesn't play well in the big game, as he showed last year at Dallas and at home in the playoffs. That having been said, there is still an intangible here which I cannot put my finger on, but I know it's there, and the Chiefs will win games.

Oakland - This team should be 16-0. How could so much talent miss the playoffs last year? Oakland will try again with a new offensive line, and a new defensive coordinator. The big "if" here is pass protection. If Jeff Hostetler has time to throw, he can avoid injury and hit a multitude of Pro Bowl talents at wideout. TE Ricky Dudley was also a great draft pick, and should be open underneath all year long. Only discipline and a renewed "Raider commitment to excellence" is lacking. The talent on both sides of the ball is scary.

Seattle - Rick Mirer will once again prove why he was the number 2 pick in the '93 draft. With Joey Galloway and Chris Warren, playing QB should be easy, as John Friese showed at the end of last year when Seattle made their mini run at a playoff spot. If Mirer can snap out of it, this team could win the division. No matter what happens at QB, Chris Warren won't let them lose more than 8 games. The defense here is solid as well.

San Diego - No running back, and no more Leslie O'Neil to rush the passer. The Chargers did sign ex-Dolphin Marco Coleman in the offseason, but he is no Leslie O'Neil, even though he may be a nicer guy in the clubhouse. San Diego may finish at .500, but that may still be good for last place in what easily looks like the best overall division in Football.

NFC East

Philadelphia - I'm picking the Eagles here only because I can't see Dallas doing it again this year with all the off-season problems and injuries they have had. Someone has to win this division, and Ray Rhodes and the Eagles seem ready for the next step. Rodney Peete is average at best, but Irving Fryar will make him look good, and Ricky Watters should easily eclipse the 1,000 yard mark again this year. The entire Eagles organization hates the Dallas Cowboys, and that can be motivation enough to win this division.

Dallas - If they win this division, it will be by default. If the Cowboys played in the West or Central, they wouldn't even make the playoffs. Irvin is gone for 5 games, and Emmitt is hurt to start the season. Novacek is done for the year, and a puppet head coach can't piece this mess together. If this whole team is healthy and not under any suspensions at the end of the year, don't be surprised to see them back in the Super Bowl after a slow start.

New York Giants - This team isn't going anywhere with Dave Brown. Rodney Hampton works way too hard to be stuck on this team. With an average defense, and a vanilla offense, the Giants have the Cardinals to thank for not finishing last. If the Giants let the easy ones slip away, the Skins will take over third place.

Washington - Norv Turner doesn't seem cut out for the head coaching job after a successful tour of duty as offensive coordinator of the Cowboys. Gus Frerotte may have been named the starter, but until either he or Health Schuler is traded, there will always be a QB controversy in Washington. Look for musical QB's this season to keep the 'Skins behind the Giants in the standings. If Turner could stick with just one through the good and the bad, Washington could finish third.

Phoenix - Is there any doubt that this is the worst team in the NFL? The only reason I have them winning 3 games is due to the law of averages. You have to feel bad for Boomer Esiason. After spending miserable seasons with the Jets, things just get worse for the blond lefty.

NFC Central

Green Bay - Where should I start? This team has it all on both sides of the ball. The only thing lacking is a star running back, but Edgar Bennett is good enough for this squad. If they can beat San Fran at Lambeau on Monday night, October 14th, they should have home field advantage in the playoffs and may avoid Dallas all together. A loss to the '49ers at home would shatter their confidence. This is the biggest game on the entire NFL schedule. Mark it down, and tell your boss you'll be late on Tuesday.

Chicago - Too bad they have to play the Pack twice, 'cause the Bears are a good club. Eric Kramer will rally the troops, and the defense will carry them into the playoffs. Dave Wannstedt is a great coach. I really hope he gets a Super Bowl ring some day. For now he had better hope for division realignment.

Tampa Bay - The Tony Dungy era begins. With all the hype down there, you'd think the Bucs didn't even have a head coach last year. Sam Wyche was a good coach, and deserves more credit than he got. This year will once again prove that the black cloud over the big sombrero does not float away with the old coach.

Detroit - The players are sick of Wayne Fontes, and they'll decide to tank it this season to get him fired. Every ex-Lions player who moves on has nothing good to say about that organization. Safety Benny Blades was even disgusted at the contract given to Scott Mitchell. Barry Sanders can't do it on his own.

Minnesota - The QB is 42, and there is no defense. The Vike's should have cut their losses this offseason and started to rebuild. Their record would not have been much worse.

NFC West

San Francisco - This team is being looked over simply because they were ousted from the playoffs last year. Had Green Bay not upset the '49ers, it would have been San Fran over Pittsburgh in last years Super Bowl. No way would Dallas have won at the 'Stick (I don't care which company owns the naming rights). This years group is improved with Terry Kirby coming over from the Dolphins. San Fran simply had no threat in the backfield last year. If they can emerge from Lambeau with a win on 10/14, it's all down hill to the Vince Lombardi trophy.

Atlanta - The Falcons finally showed some common sense and signed Jeff George to a contract. Without him the Falcons simply are not a playoff team, even though Bobby Hebert may be a crowd favorite. If the folks in Atlanta would just go to the damn games, these birds would have a huge dome field advantage and might even host a wild card game this time around.

St. Louis - Too bad they don't have a QB. The defense is there, and Lawrence Phillips could turn out to be a very good running back if he keeps his nose clean. A healthy Chris Miller would have had this team in the playoffs. The best thing about this St. Louis franchise is that it's the Rams and not the Patriots. Thanks again Bob Kraft.

Carolina - Like in Jacksonville, the honeymoon is over. If this team thinks it can come into Foxboro this year and survive even the first quarter they are mistaken. I still have nightmares of Pat O'Neils 20 yard punt in overtime from his own end zone. Even though this is an expansion team, it is an old team. Coughlin was the smart one. The Panthers will get worse before they get better.

New Orleans - Jim Mora may have finally, I said finally, worn out his welcome in the big easy. It's true you win on the back of a good defense, but the offense is so bad that the Saints will still finish last with perhaps the best defense in the division. How many 14-10 losses can the fans take? New Orleans is still the only established franchise to have never won a playoff game. The same will be said this time next year.

The Playoffs

Picking this is really a joke, but here goes nothin'...

AFC Playoff Teams

New England, Oakland
Pittsburgh, Denver
Buffalo, Kansas City

NFC Playoff Teams

Green Bay, San Fran
Chicago, Atlanta
Dallas, Philadelphia

Super Bowl: Green Bay over Kansas City