~1.) Bad teams struggle, play ugly football and lose consistently (Lions, Rams recently, 49ers Erickson/Nolan era)...lacking the players, the coaches, the schemes and the confidence to win in the NFL. These teams are usually picking somewhere in the top 5-10 of each year's draft. They consistently have no shot at a winning record, much less the playoffs.
~2.) Up-and-coming teams sometimes struggle and sometimes play ugly football yet find ways to consistently beat the bad teams and occasionally, the better teams. They typically just miss the playoffs, or aren't factors when they do make it, but they're now knocking on the door and are trying to find ways to take it to the next level to become an established team. They have a very good shot at a winning record and possibly, the playoffs. Usually, they have no shot at a world championship.
~3.) Established teams sometimes struggle in certain phases of the game, but overall, follow an established formula for winning games. They know if they just execute the game plan, they'll beat the bad teams, will beat most of the up-and-coming teams and play tough against the great teams. They have a decent shot at a championship, but most often, are runner-ups.
~4.) Great teams occasionally struggle, but mostly play great football and almost always find ways to win (even when they do struggle). They have players, the coaches, the schemes, the experience and the confidence to win it all every year (49ers of the 80's).
IMO, we're at the beginning stages of #2, so people have to try and keep their expectations for this year in check, knowing that it's a process.
[ Edited by GoFD74 on Sep 21, 2009 at 11:16 AM ]