Separating fact from fiction in the AFC
Previously, we toured the NFC and separated fact from fiction. Now, we investigate the AFC, seeking answers to some of the conference's pressing questions. For example, is Tim Tebow the best left-handed backup quarterback in Denver Broncos history? Is Ben Roethlisberger an early favorite to win the Athletes in Action/Bart Starr Award, which is given annually to the player who best exemplifies outstanding character and leadership in the home, on the field and in the community? Let's look at the AFC and separate fact from fiction.
Fact: Trent Edwards, the Bills' starting quarterback, was 10-20 as a starter in college and is 14-17 as a pro.
Fiction: He has the same agent as Lane Kiffin.
Fact: Ronnie Brown and Pat White were 2-for-11 for 22 yards when throwing from the Wildcat formation in 2009 for the Dolphins.
Fiction: It's obvious the Wildcat is the next big thing in professional football, and every successful team will soon run some derivation of it.
Fact: In September the Steelers face three teams (Atlanta, at Tennessee, at Tampa Bay) which ranked in the bottom third of the league in yards allowed per game in 2009.
Fiction: Ben Roethlisberger just might win AFC Player of the Month in September.
Fact: Based on last year's results, the Texans and Titans have the toughest strength of schedule in the NFL this year.
Fiction: The Texans' postseason appearance streak is on the line in 2010.
Fact: On Thanksgiving night, the Jets play host to the Bengals at the new Meadowlands stadium.
Fiction: Jets coach Rex Ryan will open his pregame locker room speech by saying, "First off, let's give !@#$ing thanks to the Pilgrims and Native Americans, who taught us about the importance of snacks."
Fact: In 2009, Chargers kicker Nate Kaeding passed Mike Vanderjagt as the most accurate place-kicker in NFL history (minimum 100 attempts) with an 87.2 percent success rate.
Fiction: When the game is on the line, the Chargers want Nate Kaeding on the field.
Fact: The Colts host the Giants on "Sunday Night Football" in Week 2.
Fiction: Archie Manning won't have to answer any questions that week by saying, "I'm just rooting for a good game."
to grow as a playoff starter.
Fact: Many prognosticators are picking the Ravens to win the Super Bowl this year.
Fiction: Any of the 19 active quarterbacks with more than one playoff start have a worse quarterback rating than Joe Flacco's 46.5.
Fact: Florida State graduate Myron Rolle fell to the sixth round in the draft after accepting a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford for one year. He's currently on the practice squad of the Titans.
Fiction: The NFL loves its players to be educated and multitalented.
Fact: The Bengals added Pacman Jones and Terrell Owens to last year's playoff team.
Fiction: The Bengals are all about chemistry.
Fact: The Broncos have the oldest secondary in NFL history (average age: 32.8).
Fiction: If there's any position where age is just a number, it's in the secondary.
Fact: With one Super Bowl victory in his career, Peyton Manning already has more titles than Hall of Fame quarterbacks such as Dan Marino, Dan Fouts and Jim Kelly.
Fiction: The Colts, who have won 12 games or more in a record seven consecutive seasons, remind no one of the Atlanta Braves.
Fact: The Raiders are the only team in NFL history to endure seven consecutive seasons of 11 or more defeats.
Fiction: The Raiders are not delusional, and their longtime motto, "Commitment to Excellence," has been shelved until further notice.
Fact: Adam Jones of the Bengals would really like it if you didn't refer to him as Pacman anymore.
Fiction: Adam Jones of the Baltimore Orioles has no dog in this fight.
Fact: Tom Brady has been at an impasse in contract talks with the Patriots, and some New England fans have begun questioning the long-term commitment of their star quarterback, who spends his offseasons in California.
Fiction: To demonstrate his loyalty to the team, Brady has dropped his Justin Bieber haircut and adopted this look instead.
Fact: Football Outsiders is picking the Chiefs to win the AFC West in 2010.
Fiction: The AFC West is really strong this year.
Fact: The Jaguars enter the season with this crop of wide receivers: Mike Sims-Walker, Mike Thomas, Jarett Dillard, Tiquan Underwood and Kassim Osgood.
Fiction: Running back Maurice Jones-Drew will be able to take it easy and watch the Jags' well-oiled passing game in 2010.
Fact: Tennessee's Chris Johnson had 408 touches in 2009 (358 carries and 50 receptions) in setting a new NFL record for yards from scrimmage (2,509).
Fiction: The Titans won more than eight games in 2009, so they clearly have an effective offense in place.
Fact: Jake Delhomme has been to more Super Bowls than the Cleveland Browns franchise.
Fiction: Jake Delhomme has been to more Super Bowls than the Baltimore Ravens franchise.
Fact: Peyton Manning and Colts president Bill Polian have been complaining about the changed position of the umpire (who's been moved from the defensive side of the ball to the offensive side), because illegal snap penalties will be called if the ball is hiked before the umpire is in position behind the running back.
Fiction: The NFL hates the Colts, and this just another rule meant to tick them off.
Fact: Walt Coleman, the man who famously enforced the tuck rule and is one of the longest-serving referees in the NFL, also runs Coleman Dairy in Little Rock, Ark., the oldest family-operated dairy (est. 1862) west of the Mississippi.
Fiction: Coleman is the official milk of the Oakland Raiders.
Cam Martin is a contributor to Page 2. He previously worked for the Greenwich (Conn.) Time and The (Stamford, Conn.) Advocate, and has written online for CBS Sports and Comcast SportsNet New England. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.