OAKLAND (CBS/AP) — Shield your eyes. Or, better yet, turn off the TV, tune the radio to another channel, or ignore the web altogether.
When the Raiders, Jaguars, Jets, Bills and Browns are playing, it might get ugly this season. Very ugly. From the outset.
From Oakland to Jacksonville to Orchard Park to Cleveland to the Jersey Meadowlands, pro football could be a painful experience for fans of those teams. Sure, the Arizona Cardinals in a strong division might have a worse record than some of them, but they won’t be a worse team under new coach Bruce Arians.
Here are five things to know about the dregs of the NFL in 2013:
OAKLAND RAIDERS: Just lose, baby. The Raiders have mastered that twist on the late Al Davis’ pet phrase, and even under the new regime led by his son, Mark, they have all the trappings of an also-ran. Oakland will contend this year, but for the first overall draft pick. In salary cap purgatory after lavish contracts the team gave to players no longer around — Richard Seymour, Carson Palmer and others — the Raiders don’t look like they will climb out of the Black Hole this season.
“I know outside of the Raider walls here, there are certain levels of thoughts,” general manager Reggie McKenzie says. “But I’m looking forward to September … I make no predictions at all, but I do know we’re going to play well. We’re going to play some good football. I know we’ll be better.”
If not — and obviously we think not — McKenzie and coach Dennis Allen might be unemployed in January.
JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS: Probably the least skilled roster in the NFL, although RB Maurice Jones-Drew is a major talent — if he can stay healthy. That certainly would help Blaine Gabbert, who must show he is a franchise quarterback in his third pro season.
New coach Gus Bradley, the mastermind of Seattle’s strong, aggressive defense, has to find a pass rush and people who can cover in the secondary. The receiving corps took a hit when second-year wideout Justin Blackmon was suspended for the first four games by the NFL.
Jacksonville was 2-14 a year ago, and Bradley shouldn’t expect a whole lot more victories in 2013.
NEW YORK JETS: If you think the Jets were a comedy of the absurd last year during the Tebow fiasco, well, not much has changed even though Tebow is gone. Rex Ryan’s tenure as coach won’t continue if New York doesn’t contend, and there’s nothing on offense to convince anybody the Jets can challenge the Patriots.
They also have quarterback woes with Mark Sanchez nursing a sore throwing shoulder, second-round draftee Geno Smith looking overmatched in the preseason, and a weak group of receivers for them to throw to.
Ryan’s defense could be decent, but not great with Darrelle Revis in Tampa.
At least they figure to win the back pages of the tabloids with all their shenanigans.
BUFFALO BILLS: Like the Jets, the Bills picked a bad season to not be competitive. Even though the AFC East is in a weakened state and the Patriots might not be a super power right now, Buffalo has no hope of winning the division or ending its drought from the playoffs, now at 13 years.
Injuries are a big reason, particularly at quarterback, where the Bills are in even worse shape than the Jets. And that’s saying something.
They’re also hurting on defense, where their 2012 big-money ticket, Mario Williams, needs to become a force again. Rookie coach Doug Marrone may soon wonder why he headed west about 150 miles from Syracuse to take the Bills job.
CLEVELAND BROWNS: “Upheaval on Lake Erie” could be the title for a history of the Browns — at least the latest version, which entered the NFL as an expansion outfit in 1999, three seasons after Art Modell moved the original franchise to Baltimore.
The latest shake-up, under new owner Jimmy Haslam, brings in Rob Chudzinski as coach, Norv Turner as offensive coordinator, and a new wave of guarded optimism. Guarded being the operative word.
Injury issues in the preseason damaged the Browns, and while they have some true talents in tackle Joe Thomas, cornerback Joe Haden and running back Trent Richardson, they are light years away from pushing aside the top three in the AFC North.
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