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5 Teams that may be helped by a lockout

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5 Teams that may be helped by a lockout

Post  Big_Pete on Tue Apr 19, 2011 5:51 pm

from espn

Lockout may help Packers repeat

By Mike Tanier
Football Outsiders
Archive

When it comes to the NFL lockout, whatever does not kill a team will only make its playoff chances stronger.

The lockout is not hurting all teams equally. Some teams entered the offseason with a long roster wish list or a whole new coaching staff and system to integrate. Others had the equivalent of a bunker full of canned goods when the lockout struck: a balanced roster, established coaches and few needs.

The following teams were the most prepared for an offseason of relative inactivity, or were at least better prepared than their division rivals:

Green Bay Packers

Doctors and physical therapists are not on lockout, which means injured Green Bay veterans such as Ryan Grant, Jermichael Finley, Nick Barnett and others have had plenty to do during the labor doldrums. Grant says his ankle feels "awesome," Finley is expected back and Barnett is fully recovered from wrist surgery and willing to renegotiate the contract that will pay him $11.5 million over the next two years. With so many important players scheduled to return, the Packers can move forward while standing still.

The truncated free-agency period has kept opponents from nibbling away at the edges of Green Bay's roster. While Cullen Jenkins will probably leave once free agency starts, the market for players like John Kuhn, Daryn Colledge and other midtier starters will be much slower after the draft than it would have been before the draft.

New York Giants

Like the Packers, the Giants can get much better just by getting healthier: The returns of wide receiver Steve Smith and guard Rich Seubert could solve some of the team's biggest problems. A shortened free-agency season will also lower the free-agent market for a player like Mathias Kiwanuka because teams that might gamble on a veteran pass-rusher coming off an injury in a typical year are more likely to draft a safer, cheaper alternative this year.

While New York treads water, its NFC East foes must place lengthy offseason agendas on hold. The Washington Redskins are no closer to resolving the Donovan McNabb or Albert Haynesworth situations than they were in December. The Dallas Cowboys have a new defensive coordinator, more needs than the draft can fill and are quickly realizing that idle hands are Dez Bryant's workshop. The Philadelphia Eagles are in better shape than the Cowboys or Redskins, but they hoped to trade Kevin Kolb for a player or pick who could fill a major hole on their offensive line or in the secondary. The longer the lockout lingers, the more likely the Eagles will enter the season with two quarterbacks, but a big need elsewhere on their roster.

Seattle Seahawks

The NFC West was the punch line of professional sports last year, and the Seahawks' opponents are not getting any better by twiddling their thumbs. New San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh has major decisions to make, like who his quarterback will be. The Arizona Cardinals have a new defensive coordinator and a crisis at quarterback -- the team hoped to bring in a Marc Bulger-type to groom a youngster, but any veteran they sign will have to speed-read the playbook to get ready. The St. Louis Rams have plenty of young talent, but also have a new offensive coordinator, Josh McDaniels, with a complicated system to install. Instead of taking a step forward in 2011, the Rams may have to settle for standing firm.

Seattle, by contrast, has a stable coaching staff and a roster full of veterans. If anybody deserves a few extra weeks off to heal his aches and pains, it's Matt Hasselbeck. The Seahawks could easily ride a 6-0 division record into the playoffs next year while their foes try to settle quarterback controversies or figure out new playbook terminology.

Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers generally sit out the free-agency season, so an inactive March is nothing new for them. No team in the league boasts a more stable offensive and defensive philosophy. Veterans cleaned out their lockers in February very certain what their roles and assignments will be in 2011. That will save the Steelers valuable practice time once the hitting starts.

Like New York and Seattle, Pittsburgh has the advantage of seeing several division foes stuck in a holding pattern. The Cincinnati Bengals have made no progress on the Carson Palmer situation; in fact, the relationship between Palmer and the organization appears to be getting worse. Dick Jauron replaces Rob Ryan as the Cleveland Browns' defensive coordinator, bringing a very different philosophy that Browns defenders must adjust to. And the Baltimore Ravens are stuck in their usual spot -- half a step behind the Steelers, but with no real chance for sudden improvement.

New England Patriots

They have two picks in the first round and two picks in the second round, including the 33rd pick overall, so they can upgrade their roster without needing any free agents. Bill Belichick also has 10 million gallons of crude oil stashed away, just in case.

Mike Tanier has covered the NFL for Football Outsiders since 2005. His first book, The Philly Fan's Code, will be in stores this fall. You can follow him on Twitter at @FO_MTanier.
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