Originally Posted by edo783
... but there isn't much doubt that they have made a decision to be markedly better this year. I see it as a push to be close to the playoffs this year (outside chance of making it) with next year being the push into the playoffs and 06 (07 the latest) being a planed shot to go all the way ....
I'm not sure that it isn't possible for teams to be more competitive quickly in a salary cap regime and I feel (but obviously can't prove) that we are on a faster track. I predict a single playoff game win season this year, followed by being one of a handful of teams with a real chance to win it all in 2005.
Prior to the Texan expansion, the Superbowl had been won in three consecutive years by teams that in the previous year had the worst record in their division (Rams, Patriots, Ravens). Back then, they were rewarded for their ineptitude with 5th place schedules and these three years would suggest that the easier schedule was enough to smooth their way to go from worst to first
and to win the Superbowl. Using the Patriots as an example, as I recall (but I confess I didn't double check my recollection), the Patriots were 1-2 against playoff teams during the season when they won the Superbowl. Their reward for this dubious acheivement was a first round bye, followed by playing in the snow, at night, at home, against the Raiders, who had played the Jets in the first round the week before. Following a rescue by the referees in the famous 'tuck rule' call, the Patriots beat the Steelers (Brady knocked out, but they had a kick return and Bledsoe threw a touchdown as I recall) and were in the Superbowl. Finally, they won the Superbowl on a field goal (I recall but haven't checked that Brady had only 1 third down conversion in the game). Romantically, we remember the Superbowl winner as a great team, without flaws, but that isn't really the case.
While the 5th place schedule is gone, and I would argue that the last 2 winners since the Texans joined the league were better teams, parity has created a situation where better teams tend to lose talent (see Colts and Titans,with salary cap problems, losing starters and having to trade out of the first round of the draft to hope for second and third round rookies to plug in). Rising teams can mature and acquire a few parts in free agency to get over the top. It is possible. There often is a playoff cinderella.