Well, I think it will, and here are some reasons why.
1. Teams that must rely on rookie Quarterbacks might find these QBs much more unprepared than rookie QBs would normally be–especially since NONE of the rookie QBs are sure franchise QBs…there were no Sam Bradfords, Matt Ryans, or Matthew Staffords in this draft, IMHO.
2. Teams that have new head coaches, with the new coordinators this new HC brings, will have a much harder time, IMHO, bringing their players up to speed–and this goes double for new HCs with rookie (or new) QBs.
What this means is that the Tennessee Titans, Minnesota Vikings, Carolina Panthers, San Fransisco 49ers, Cleveland Browns, Denver Broncos, and Cinncinati Bengals will likely have rough seasons. Each of these teams either has a new QB or rookie starting coming in, a new HC/Coordinators, or both. One could also add the Arizona Cardinals and maybe even the Seattle Seahawks to this list because of unsettled QB situations…and if this is the case, look for the once doormat St. Louis Rams to take over the NFC West.
3. Some teams that made major improvements last year will fall back almost by default, mostly because of the divisions they are in. I love Josh Freeman, but the experts who claim the Tampa Bay Bucs will fall backwards this year are unfortunately probably being truthful–the NFC South is a ball buster as long as Drew Brees is on the Saints and the Falcons continue to look more and more like an elite team (yet, looks can be deceiving…just bercause of Matt Ryan and supposed coaching genius Mike Smith, does this mean that the Falcons will not continue to be the Falcons? Good one year, mediocre the next?). Then you have the Chiefs…Jamaal Charles carried this team last year, but will he be able to do what he did in 2010, or will the team have to rely on Matt Cassel? If so, then look for the Chargers to retake the division. In the NFC North, every expert on the planet is looking for big things from the “suddenly revived” Lions. Now really, the Lions have been so bad for so long that them getting to 6-10 last year actually has these experts thinking they’ll make the playoffs? But for this to happen, the Bears will have to fall way hard, and honey, this could happen I suppose but it isn’t likely. Jay Cutler isn’t elite but when he’s good he’s on fire.
4. Some teams that disappointed–in fact most teams that disappointed–should make it back to previous standing. Tony Romo is back and Jason Garrett clearly had the Cowboys attention last year, so look for the Cowboys to perhaps make the playoffs again in 2011. The Chargers–unless the Chiefs really are for real and the Raiders still have QB issues (among others) that prevent them from moving up–should retake the AFc West mainly because the issues that divided them (Vince Jackson and Sean Merriman) are no longer there, and this might be the last year Norv and the boys have to push for the Super Bowl.
5. Some teams that have been “elite” will likely fall back as well. After all, a new decade (2011 begins the decade, not 2010) always–no exception–brings new powers, and with it, old power fall off. I’ve been saying on other blogs for the last couple of years that I expect the Colts, Steelers and Patriots to fall off. It hasn’t happened yet: these three teams have great QBs, period, end of story. But the Colts clearly fell off last year, and the only reason they still make the playoffs is because no other AFC South team has risen up to claim the mantle (and every time I say the Texans will, they disappoint yet again!). For the Steelers, it always seems that something–their defense, officials, or pure blind luck–keeps this team from even beginning to crack, but one of these days Dick LeBeau will retire and then I think we will see the start of the fall off. They were bad for 40 years, then they were great (mostly) for the next 40. So, then, it’s time. And we all know how super duper the Patriots were in 2010, but then came the playoffs. We all know BB is the best coach in the NFL, and we all know how awesome Tom Brady is. But still. History (the AFC East version of it anyway) will repeat itself. Either the Jets, Dolphins or Bills will take over this division in the 2010s…I just don’t know which one (but I don’t think it’ll be the Jets…why? Because they’re the Jets, and Rex Ryan ain’t helping! The media loves this guy. I don’t–hubris, man, hubris.
6. Other playoff calibre teams still have a lot of question marks. There has been a flurry of FO commentary regarding whether or not Joe Flacco deserves a new contract in Ravensville–guys there has to be a reason for this, and I suspect Ozzie and the gang simply do not think Flacco is good enough…I mean, their window is closing for the Super Bowl as well because Ray Ray won’t be around for much longer and when Ray Lewis retires so do the Ravens fortunes (that’s how good the man is!) Is Haloti Ngata ready to take Ray Ray’s place? I’ve already mentioned the Chargers. the Saints have issues that do not seem to be getting much coverage because many think they are returning to the Super Bowl and don’t want to damper their enthusiasm: Reggie Bush, Darren Sharper, and a little but of kharma coming over that flap with their coaches handing out illegal substances might be coming Sean Payton’s way. The Packers? I love Aaron Rodgers, but is Mike McCarthy really that good a coach? The Jets? Did you know that for all the flack Fins’ Chad Henne has taken this off-season from everybody, Henne actually grades out better than Mark Sanchez does in every category but leadership, and Henne (due to the lockout) has taken huge strides to become the leader the Dolphins must have to escape the mediocrity they’ve been in since that huge 2008 turnaround. My point? With Rex Ryan’s hubris, their free agency quandry (too many free agents to try to sign), and the fact that the Jets are getting older faster than just about every other team–and I see definite improvement in the Bills as well as the Dolphins–I actually see the Jets might finish last this year in that division. Hard to believe, but the pressure is building.
Part Two is <a href=”https://lifeimitatesfootball.wordpress.com/2011/07/03/will-lockout-shake-up-nfl-standings-part-2/>here</a>.