EFL Home 2005 Season
Wilmington Snooze-Terminal, August 11, 2005

Rip Snorter

Spotting Fairest of EFL Class of ’05

Last year at this time I made some laughable predictions on how the 2004 EFL regular season would go. With red face I recall how I predicted “10-plus” wins for Delaware (the Cherries won six) and “five wins max” for Syracuse (the Crush won 10 and went to the championship game). About the only thing I got right was picking Philadelphia as a playoff team, but with that prediction I was too coy to deserve much credit.

Bloodied but unbowed, as they say, I will take another whack at spotting the fairest of the EFL — this time looking at the class of ’05 as this weekend’s season openers loom. But I’m not going to compound a likely useless exercise by attempting to do expert commentary on each team like last year. The only team I’ll say more than a few words about is Delaware.

Central Division

lst: Philadelphia Lakers — Renewed Brett should take them Favre.
2nd: Atlantic City Seagulls — Shawn Springs shores up leaky pass defense.
3rd: Cherries — As likely to go backward as forward.
4th: New York Empires — With Davis out, too much pressure on Delhomme.

Northern Division

lst: Albany Racers — Corey Dillon will be MVP candidate.
2nd: Syracuse Crush — QB controversy helps here. Both Ramsey and Brunell are good.
3rd: Connecticut Comets — Brady is great but doesn’t have enough weapons.
4th: Providence Steam Roller — T.O. may not like sharing receiving spotlight with Holt.

Southern Division

lst: Pittsburgh Ironmen — Found winning formula last year.
2nd: Washington Capitals — Possible breakout year for Culpepper.
3rd: Baltimore Bolts — Starting to stockpile young offensive skill players.
4th: Richmond Rebels — Faulk on the decline; reinforcements won’t come fast enough.

For wildcard I’ll pick Syracuse.

So what about those Cherries? Even if Lee Evans pans out as a decent replacement for Bobby Shaw, they still seem a little short on quality receivers. And I don’t think it’s a given that LaDainian Tomlinson will average six yards a carry again. John Kasay will probably miss a few 40s-length field goals — unlike last year.

The Delaware defense should be a little better. The move of Terrell Suggs from the line to linebacker opens a starting spot for Bryce Fisher, a good rusher. So last year’s paltry sack total of seven is exceedable. With Lito Sheppard emerging as a potential all-star, the defense probably won’t miss Champ Bailey too much. The linebacking corps has excellent depth.

The wildcard for Delaware, of course, is Drew Brees. If he’s able to make the offense productive with the receiving corps he has to work with then he will indeed have proved himself to be the quality quarterback the front office thinks he is. If not opponents might not need many points to outscore the Cherries.