The Situationist NFL Preview: AFC

Andy Livingston

Tom Brady felt the balls

Are you ready for some football? How about some sides of Marxist inspired avant garde art movements? Good! Because I’ve got you covered this year with the Situationist Guide to the NFL season. And since I’m no Guy Debord, I’ve broken down the guide into three handy steps: The Spectacle, Detournement and Psychogeography. For those unfamiliar with the teachings of a bunch of pranksters from the ’60s (what are you even doing here?), Detournement was a technique used to “turn expressions of the capitalist system against itself,” while Psychogeography is the study of the “specific effects of the geographical environment on the emotions and behavior of individuals.” I don’t think I need to explain Spectacle to you, because it begins tonight when the Pittsburgh Steelers line up against the New England Stealers to kick off the season. For that reason, we’re starting in the AFC.

AFC North

ben-roethlisberger-pirate-face

Pittsburgh Steelers

2014 Record: 11-5

The Spectacle

The brass balls of this team. Already totally behind one of the most unlikeable quarterbacks outside of his team’s city in Ben Roethlisberger, and now his backup is Michael Vick? Have a gander at the logic behind the Stillers fans who think Vick still needs to be punished for his crimes, while Ben didn’t do anything wrong. When your brain starts to ooze out of your ears, log off the internet for a while.

Detournement

James Harrison will personally come to your house and throw away your childhood trophies because he’s decided you didn’t deserve it. If he retires this offseason, his next step is into politics. Believe me. Randians will hoist him up on their shoulders… well, they’ll think about it first and then decide he doesn’t need help.

Psychogeography

The defense has been totally depleted this offseason and they just lost their star offensive lineman, so unless head coach Mike Tomlin develops a new way to trip opponents on the field, this could get ugly.

Cleveland Browns

2014 Record: 7-9

The Spectacle

Is Manziel-mania still happening? Wait, he lost the starting job to Josh McCown?

Detournement

The big offseason move was the change of team colors from orange to other orange.

orange

Psychogeography

If the quarterback choices have you scratching your head, the offensive weapons of Brian Hartline, Dwayne Bowe (already listed as probable) and Isaiah Crowell will having you asking “who?” for the entire season.

Baltimore Ravens

Steve-Smith-REdskins-fight-08-29-15

2014 Record: 10-6

The Spectacle

Steve Smith Sr. You want to have a good time and try and forget the bumbling criminal enterprise that was the attempted Ray Rice coverage last year? Just keep your eyes on Steve Smith. A 38-year-old with declining skills and a chip on his shoulder the size of the entire state of North Carolina is the number one option for Joe Flacco.

Detournement

Without much of anything going outside of aging players, the Ravens will somehow stay in contention in their ridiculously rough division and wind up in the playoffs.

Psychogeography

“Elite” Joe Flacco will go from Butter Statue in White Socks to Peyton Manning come playoff time, and turn the second tier receiving core into a threat.

Cincinnati Bengals

2014 Record: 10-5-1

The Spectacle

The Bengals are the person you see on Okcupid or Tinder for years at a time. You create accounts and then delete them because you’re in relationships and out of relationships and then you’re back on and BAM! The Bengals are still there. You read their profile and you think, “Well there has to be something going on there,” but then you realize if someone has been on the same dating site for like seven years, they’re maybe not trying that hard. That’s the Bengals.

Detournement

You ever hear the joke, “There are three good quarterbacks in Ohio and they all play for Ohio State”? Because you’re going to hear it every week until the start of spring. Also, Marvin Lewis keeps convincing people he deserves his job in what can only be some kind of prank on the Peter Principle that anthropologists will study 100 years from now.

Psychogeography

AJ Green should probably just go the Barry Sanders route and retire to Europe to escape this doomed team that never knows how to find him open.

AFC West

Denver Broncos

2014 Record: 12-4

The Spectacle

“I can’t feel anything in my fingertips,” Manning said Thursday. “It’s crazy. I’ve talked to a doctor recently who said ‘Don’t count on the feeling coming back.‘”

Detournement

Demariyus Thomas held out long enough to get all the money, so the guy who can’t feel his hands has about at least one target to throw to on each down. Sounds like a fun year!

Psychogeography

In John Elway’s attempt to liken the team into his own image, he dumped John Fox and hired his old roommate/terrible coach Gary Kubiak and drafted his son’s college roommate. Only a couple more moves until he can convince the city to join him in re-naming the team the Elways and the jerseys will just be one of those giant sweaters of his face.

Oakland Raiders

15749564-mmmain

2014 Record: 3-13

The Spectacle

The idling moving van out front? Oakland has some offensive weapons in first-round pick Amari Cooper and Latavius Murray in the backfield, but the guy steering the ship is still Derek Carr. Carr was sacked 24 times last season, with 12 interceptions and six fumbles (two of them lost).

Detournement

Mark Davis is playing chicken with the city of Oakland, while keeping the new mega stadium in Carson, California on the other line. The team will spend all year trying to convince you that Derek Carr is not David Carr.

Psychogeography

Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree are talented enough to pull off a couple spectacular grabs a game and bail out the quarterback, and the defense should probably get some looks if you’re in search of secondary fantasy D, but unless your last name ends in –avis, there aren’t a lot of reasons to expect fun this year.

San Diego Chargers

2014 Record: 9-7

The Spectacle

See also, Raiders, Oakland. Plus this guy is still around

philip-rivers

Detournement

$1.1 million offered to the team for a new stadium and both the team and the NFL were like “Nahh…” Maybe if the team leaves this weirdo city can center all of its attention on Comic Con, the Navy, and all the bands that come out of there? Forget football, Danny, you’re a Locust fan now.

Psychogeography

An improved offensive line, but a suspended Antonio Gates for four games means the team will still limp to a .500 record and a possible first round exit. You know, like every other year.

Kansas City Chiefs

2014 Record: 9-7

The Spectacle

The Andy Reid Experience keeps on a-rollin. There are high school coaches with broken homes and a cracked iPhone 3 to watch the clock who manage game time better than the old walrus.

Detournement

Reid catches a lot of flak, but man does he know how to not use his players. You know how many Wide Receivers caught touchdown passes for the Chiefs last year? Zero. ZERO. Z-E-R-O. That’s made genius level of trolling. He’s the Georges Perec of football coaching.

Psychogeography

Honestly, Kansas City made some decent offensive moves, but Alex Smith can’t throw a deep ball and even if you go see a game, you’ll be blind by halftime because you ate mold.

AFC East

belichick-lets-party

New England Patriots

2014 Record: 12-4

The Spectacle

These. Fucking. Guys. At least with Andrew Luck winning you begrudgingly admit there is something there, but the Patriots are like those assholes who know the Starbucks hacks and think they’re an advanced set of human instead of a raging sociopath.

Detournement

It’s an upsetting prospect to see that Tom Brady’s suspension has been overturned (as of September 3) with the prospect that the NFL will appeal it and he may still sit out some games, but that the (likely) over reach of Roger Goodell’s punishment just fuels the fire for Pats fans to claim conspiracy against them.

Psychogeography

I don’t know man, what other loophole will they exploit this year? Are there rules that NFL teams can’t use drones? Better put that drone rule in there so Bill Belichick doesn’t roll out a four drone spread against the Steelers in Week One.

New York Jets

geno-smuth

2014 Record: 4-12

The Spectacle

You mean besides Geno Smith getting punched out over a plane ticket? Uh, Rex Ryan is gone?

Detournement

Hey, they got Brandon Marshall! Not to minimize his mental health issues, but surrounding someone who needs a lot of stability and support to get the most out of his day and then being placed in such a chaotic area where dudes are getting their jaws broken over $400 doesn’t sound like the best.

Psychogeography

If the feeling wasn’t already that the team is leaning towards another rebuild, losing your starting QB for the first few weeks only to “upgrade” to Ryan Fitzpatrick in Week 1, then fans should expect full tank mode.

Miami Dolphins

2014 Record: 8-8

The Spectacle

Ryan Tannehill threw for 27 touchdowns last year, with a 66.4 completion percentage, over 4,000 yards and a career low 12 interceptions. The management decided to swap out their entire receiving corps in the off season, so, uh, new weapons! (I think)

Detournement

We get to look forward to another year of that stupid champagne popping reference while those actually old enough to remember the unbeaten ’72 team hears popping in their ears all the time anyway. Dan Marino might even stomp around the sideline thinking he’s got another season in him.

Psychogeography

The Fins grabbed Jordan Cameron, which probably puts him at the top of their receiving depth chart, but Greg Jennings and Jarvis Landry still need to be taken seriously. The giant contract they gave to N’damukong Suh means that defense needs to make a big splash. In 2014 the Dolphins only outscored their opponents by 15 points over the course of the season.

Buffalo Bills

2014 Record: 9-7

The Spectacle

The Bills had one of the most dominating defenses in 2015, recording the most sacks in the NFL and finishing in the top-10 in both interceptions and fumble recoveries. The offense stumbled for most of the year, due in part to the smokescreen that was Kyle Orton, who, despite playing worse than EJ Manuel, was able to keep the team’s slim playoff hopes alive for most of the season. Head coach Doug Marrone disliked the rest of the team so much he would rather be an assistant OL coach for the Jaguars (ouch). But hey, they got Rex Ryan and his giant Bills truck!

screen-shot-2015-04-07-at-10-29-26-am

Detournement

Talk about capital destabilizing, Rex has three QB’s to choose from, all a little less impressive than the next. Matt Cassel, EJ Manuel and Tyrod Taylor are all there to disappoint the fantasy owners of Sammy Watkins and Percy Harvin, while LeSean McCoy showed up to pair with Fred Jackson. So they’ll average around 400 rushing attempts per game.

Psychogeography

A bunch of disgruntled-at-their-former-team guys are now on board, including known bully Richie Incognito, but Rex does seem to have a way with those kind of guys.

AFC South

Indianapolis Colts

2014 Record: 11-5

The Spectacle

andrew-luck-naked-locker-room

Detournement

Man, you know how infuriating it is that Andrew Luck is this good? His face just brings out so many negative feelings, but every year you have to deal with it because he’ll come back from 30 points down on a busted ankle and make Peyton Manning look like a fluke.

Psychogeography

The Colts nabbed Phillip Dorset from Miami in the first round to pair up with an already-impressive duo in receivers Andre Johnson and T.Y. Hilton, so Luck is probably on a fast track for an MVP and that picture of him as a Civil War general on a blog every week.

Tennessee Titans

2014 Record: 2-14

The Spectacle

Well, Marcus Mariota is there now, so maybe they won’t be as bad. They loaded up in the draft, grabbing six new offensive pieces and adding bulk to the front line, but the probability that they’re still going to be an ugly watch is certain. Until Chip Kelly trades 14 draft picks for Mariota or something.

Detournement

Those jerseys still look like a castoff of a mid-’90s NBA jersey. They need a makeover badly.

Psychogeography

Mariota did win the Heisman in 2014 and has talent and maybe a young core can brew into something nice. Mariota’s ability to run can shore up some of the backfield opportunities, but as we see in Washington the offensive line has to be good.

Houston Texans

Vince-Wilfork-suspenders

2014 Record: 9-7

The Spectacle

The inevitable cloning of JJ Watt to play all positions because this franchise has never figured out what a quarterback is. That said, their third stringer is named Tom Savage! Why isn’t he starting? Why wasn’t he forced to give up his last name and give it to JJ Watt? JJ Savage? Jesus, that’s a good football name. That’s even a good name for Jesus.

Detournement

Did you know Arian Foster is out while recovering from surgery? Holy moly that makes this offense even worse. Just spend the fleeting time with your loved ones when the offense is on the field.

Psychogeography

Watt and Vince Wilfork will feast upon the corpses of opposing quarterbacks like Conan the Barbarian, but will still lose double-digit games because some sneak decided to hide the one page of plays that forms the offensive playbook.

Jacksonville Jaguars

2014 Record: 3-13

The Spectacle

You know, the Jags weren’t awful on defense last season. They gave up 412 points (which is a lot) but in comparison, the AFC South Division winning Colts gave up 369 points (which is also a lot). The problem is their offense, where rookie QB Blake Bortles threw 11 TDs, 17 INTs and was sacked 55 times. He was sacked just now as you were reading this.

Detournement

Jags are playing that anti-capitalist game by downgrading the services of their quarterback, so when they trade him for parts in two years they can get the best deal from the guy running the junkyard. Also, they are only second to the Titans in terms of a team in need of a facelift.

Psychogeography

The Jags shored up their D with Dante Fowler Jr as their first pick and possibly got a total steal in T.J. Yeldon to be their running back to help take some of the pressure off of Bortles, but fans probably would have loved to see the front office give Blake some more weapons.

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