Come January 2013 the NFL play offs will be upon us and with such a turbulent offseason, not just in New Orleans, but all over the league with more than 30 player arrests between February and July of 2012 a host of players could be facing League suspension’s there are bound to be a few surprise names featuring in the post season.
In the 2011 season the usual post season customers were joined by a few outsiders, as the lockout ended not many people expected the Texans, Bengals, the Tebow inspired Broncos or even eventual NFC Championship runners up the 49ers to still be playing into the New Year. This season the bookmakers have perennial play off attendees New England has extremely short favourites to win the AFC East and make another appearance this season, Green Bay, Pittsburgh, New Orleans and the resurgent San Francisco are all short odds favourites to make the post season too. These miserly odds owe more to the fact that their competitors within their respective divisions have suffered, either with personnel issues, or struggled to retain players under the new salary cap rules, or in the New York Jets case have made some bizarre personnel decisions and turned their pre season program into a circus.
The Jets are an interesting case in point, last season they were embroiled in controversy, not just from the start of the season, but before that during preseason when Corner Back Darrelle Revis threatened to repeat his 2010 contract holdout. The controversy continued throughout the season as offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer and Quarterback Mark Sanchez struggled to implement an efficient offence and Darrelle Revis and his colleagues on the defensive side of the ball struggled to contain opposing offences as they had done in 2010. This season they have a new offensive coordinator in the shape of former Miami Dolphins Head Coach Tony Sparrano and Head Coach Rex Ryan has said that he may take responsibility for calling defensive plays. Personnel wise the Jets caused quite a stir in the off season by trading for Broncos Quarterback Tim Tebow, a first round pick in the 2010 draft, ever since the trade the Jets have been involved in storm of gossip surrounding Tebow’s role in the team, he’s been seen lining up as a personal protector in punting drills and the team insist that Mark Sanchez will be the team’s starting Quarterback this season. The team’s main concern this season will be their starting offensive line which seems to be the weakest part of the team and one which they largely failed to address during the draft, drafting an offensive guard from Baylor when right tackle is their biggest problem area. Last season was the Jets worst in 4 years , they won just 8 games having averaged 10 wins a season in the previous 3 years, with their coaching changes and the inspirational Tebow in the locker room they should provide the Patriots with a stern challenge and their odds of 13/2 appear to be a rather enticing prospect.
The Buffalo Bills under Chan Gailey have become a much improved team and at one stage last season looked to be the surprise package of the entire NFL. A t the end of October they were 5-2 and had beaten their division rivals the Patriots 34-31 in a thrilling game at the Ralph Wilson Stadium where their defence made 4 interceptions and their offense threw 2 of their own. They also beat the hotly tipped Eagles in Buffalo and until they hit a 7 game losing streak they matched the Patriots win- loss record. This season the Bills schedule sees them playing some of the weaker teams in the NFL so even if they do not manage to upset divisional rivals the Patriots again they could realistically make the play offs as a wild card team. Not only do they play some of the weaker teams they play them all in December and with a run of games beginning on November 15th with the 125-1 outsiders Indianapolis Colts and includes 3 home games against the Jaguars, Rams & Seahawks if the Bills can manage to win 5 of their first 9 games they could be full of confidence at the business end of the regular season.