SCOUT'S HONOR: Best, worst red zone teams

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Scoring inside the red zone when it's all on the line. So many teams can move the ball downfield, but suddenly struggle within the 20-yard line. It's a test to see which team is often the most physical and has the favorable matchups. Here's a projected look at the best and worst teams inside the red zone for 2003.

Top Five

Kansas City The have a lot of things going for them with their ability to spread the field and create matchup problems. becomes a dangerous threat down here due to his athleticism. And creates a lot for opponents to worry about coming out of the backfield. Look for to become a scoring factor due to his size and physical skills. And when they simply need to pound the ball — fullback can be called above. St. Louis A healthy and certainly can make a huge impact. Expect the to bounce back this season because Faulk's presence opens everything else up for their offense. The offensive line should protect Warner much better than last season. That gives Warner time to put balls in the right spot for his receivers. And Warner is one of the best in that department. That element alone makes the successful. But two concerns for the remain at fullback and replacing . Although they have some impressive young receivers in camp, Proehl's veteran savvy can't be forgotten. Miami right. left. up the gut. And out in the flat. I believe you get the point. But they need some diversity within the red zone. That means tight end needs to establish some consistency. Former Redskin could become a factor due to his toughness in traffic. Indianapolis Dangerous? Absolutely. The ' offense is downright scary with back to form. James is like . He creates so many matchup problems for the opposing defense. Adding rookie with at tight end will open a lot of things up for their receivers. is evolving into someone defensive coordinators will need to account for on every snap. Oakland has another good ride left. And why not with the stable of targets he has to choose among in the passing game? has become a problem for opponents out of the slot with his blend of size and athleticism. and rookie will occupy the seam. And remains an unstoppable goal-line weapon. And how can you forget the foundation of this offense with , , and ? The will put points on the board.

Bottom Five

Dallas The have playmakers in the passing game. But the need to prove they can run the ball and pick up tough yardage on the ground. And of course, or whoever is playing quarterback later in the season must avoid mistakes. The offensive line must stabilize itself after an erratic camp. Look for to establish himself as a top option within the red zone. Detroit The really have a lot of holes. They have inconsistency at the wide receiver position. The top veteran is Az Hakim, who fits best in the slot. That puts a lot of pressure on as a rookie. The run game is just adequate. isn't known as a banger in tight space. Cincinnati is turnover prone, but a lot of problems start up front along the offensive line. The have had problems generating push up front and has been unable to bounce plays outside when the middle gets clogged up. They hope former Falcon can provide more punch to the run game from his tight end spot. Jacksonville The lost to Houston. He was their top goal-line runner last season. has a nose for the end zone, but so many opponents will be keyed on him unless the passing game surprises people. could provide some production inside the 20 with his size. will make a few plays, but doesn't scare opponents. 's status is uncertain at this point. Carolina The addition of certainly helps establish a physical run game. will provide some help in the passing game in clutch situations. But they have questions beyond that. They really don't have a tight end that scares many teams. Carolina really needs Muhsin Muhammad to take advantage of his size more often.
Tagged: Bengals, Cowboys, Lions, Colts, Chiefs, Raiders, Rams, Dolphins, Panthers, Jaguars, Texans, Corey Dillon, Edgerrin James, Reggie Wayne, Tony Richardson, Jerry Rice, Charlie Garner, Marshall Faulk, Kurt Warner, Ricky Williams, Stephen Davis, Derrius Thompson, Fred Taylor, Jimmy Smith, Randy McMichael, Antonio Bryant, Doug Jolley, Charles Rogers, Dallas Clark

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