Stiletto: Finding Those That Stink

While all the prognosticators are working on figuring out next year's Super Bowl champs, Tommy Stiletto works the dark underside of oddsmaking. Who, he wonders, is supposed to do well, but will really stink it up in 2002?

Another NFL season is just around the corner. That means it's time for anybody who's ever seen a game to play Jimmy the Greek and spout off about which teams they think will be great this year.

Of course, we already know the answer to that question: The team with the cool orange helmets.

Far more entertaining is guessing which teams will really suck this season. I'm not talking about the teams in deep rebuilding mode (Carolina, Detroit, Jacksonville) or the teams that always suck (Bengals). I'm not even talking about the Texans, who are supposed to suck this season. I'm talking about the teams that were good, or at least promising, last season and are about to step off a cliff.

Every team, of course, is just a key injury or two from a top-five draft choice. But here are some teams that could be looking at a big fall this year:

- Giants. Aging, tired team leaning too heavily on Kerry Collins, who isn't a guy you want to hang your hopes on.

- Broncos. Nobody stays good forever. It's Denver's turn to crash and burn. By the way, whenever you hear a Bronco fan spout off about their Super Bowl titles, remind him that those titles come with an asterisk - they didn't have to beat the Browns to earn those rings because we were on temporary hold at the time.

- Tennessee. This team is really hard to peg. They're either going to the Super Bowl or straight in the toilet. Check back in Week 4 for a better idea.

- Jets. One word: Vinny.

- New England. Anybody really believe that Tom Brady's the best QB in the league?

Another fun preseason guessing game is trying to figure out which coach is going to get canned first. A handful of coaches are under some serious pressure to produce a title, and a slow start could send an itchy owner reaching for Jerry Glanville's phone number.

- Dick LeBeau, Bengals. There are people who think Cincinnati actually has a good football team, in spite of Akili Smith. A rough start could start a chorus of calls to dump Dick. Odds-on favorite to be the first coach looking for work this year. Probably gone after the season anyway, if he lasts that long. What's David Shula doing these days, anyway?

- Dave Campo, Cowboys. It's an open secret that Jerry Jones is running this team anyway and he could send Campo packing if things go south early.

- Bill Callahan, Raiders. Crazy Al has a notoriously short fuse and his team was a bad call away from a good shot at the Super Bowl last year. He could lose patience real quick and wish he hadn't taken Tampa's cash for Jon Gruden.

- Marty Morninwheg, Lions. This guy's supposed to be an offensive genius, but it sure didn't show on the field last year. Lions might cut him some slack because he's got a rookie QB and he was hand-picked by team prez Matt Millen. Remember, the Browns were hot for MM before prying Butch from UMiami.

- Brian Billick, Ravens. Couldn't happen to a nicer guy.
Don't be surprised to see Jacksonville, Seattle, San Francisco, Atlanta and either of the New York teams looking for a new coach after the season. Also, it probably won't happen, but Steve Spurrier's act could wear thin real fast in Washington.

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