NFL Analysis 101: 100 Years of Epicurean, Hedonistic Hound Dogs

Timothy Braun brings you, dear reader, up to date on the AFC North

My initial intention was to kick of the AFC portion of our class with an assessment of the AFC South, featuring my Super Bowl-winning Colts, my editor's Houston Texans, and former Longhorn Vince Young and his Tennessee Titans. However, the rumor mill is twirling on all three of these teams on trades, free-agent snatchery, and the big if of le Titans' Pac-Man "Make It Rain" Jones playing this season. Thus, I'm gonna give those teams a few days to find direction before I drop a decisive literary comparison on them.

Now, the AFC is vastly superior to its little-brother conference. Personally, the top team in the NFC (Chicago) would still drop a game to the seventh- or even the eighth-best team in the American Conference on neutral turf.

We shall start with the AFC North …

Baltimore Ravens
Print Comparison
: Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk
The first rule of the 46 Defense? No one talks about the 46 Defense. In a league ever-changing and dependent on specialists and three-wide-out sets, Ray Lewis and his brooding band of badasses come together to beat the pulp out of any who cross them in the name of male psychotherapy. These men yearn for the days of Dick Butkus and Dick "Night Train" Lane but must deal with a league built on looks, marketing, and agents.

Prognosis: In keeping with malicious manners, this team needs a big ugly on the offensive line to keep the pain coming. They might grab Florida A&M's Daniel Parrish.

Cincinnati Bengals
Printed Comparison
: Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain
Epicurean, hedonistic criminals are at the core of this talented yet flawed gang of tough guys. With nine arrests last season, including former guard Eric Steinbach's boating-while-intoxicated charge, this team could cook up some trouble in the playoffs if they can stay out of prison.

Prognosis: This team needs to draft anyone without a criminal record for once. It doesn't matter if they draft a punter, he just needs to be an Eagle Scout! Even Bourdain cleaned up his act, and he has a show on the Travel Channel now.

Cleveland Browns
Printed Comparison
: Timbuktu by Paul Auster
A novel narrated by a discerning and sympathetic dog that is unconditionally faithful to his troubled master, Willy G. Christmas. Sounds like the Dawg Pound to me. Rumor has it, Browns administrators want to bring back the puppy love in spades. Expect them to make a splash at the top of the draft.

Prognosis: It has been said alpha wolf Phil Savage has developed serious emotions for LSU QB Jamarcus Russell. But even Savage knows that his hounds can't hunt without a strong offensive and defensive line. I see this team barking for Joe Thomas of Wisconsin. I know I had Thomas going to another pack, but, as indicated in the prologue of this entry, things are changing.

Pittsburgh Steelers
Printed Comparison
: One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garci­a Marquez
Like the Steelers, this book is a classic, maybe the best book of the 20th century, and completely in a world of its own. Many emulate Marquez, as many emulate the Rooney clan, but none truly come close. The fact that this team has had only three head coaches since Nixon was in China speaks of a family with vision and continuity that has won five Super Bowls in almost four decades. In contrast, the Bidwells, owners of the Arizona/St. Louis Cardinals, have had 14 head coaches and zero championships.

Prognosis: New head coach Mike Tomlin needs front seven support to place his mark on this historic defense. I like Purdue hybrid Anthony Spencer.

For Next Class:
I wish I could teach Kilgore Trout, but I need you to know your Little Women.

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