SI's Bucky Brooks has a recent column featuring "Players on the decline: Ten veterans whose production will continue to slide." We might expect some insight here, right? Perhaps Brooks will look at players that we may still think are good but are likely to suffer a decline in 2007.
But that's really not the case: Brooks documents players who declined in 2006, if not earlier.
He talks about Trent Green, who in 2006 missed 8 games with a concussion, threw more INTs than TDs, and was awful in the Chiefs' playoff game. He talks about Jamal Lewis, who in the last two seasons averaged 3.4 and 3.6 yards per attempt (his previous low was 4.3). He includes Rod Smith, who in 2006 had 52 catches for 512 yards, easily his worst season since 1996. You can also learn about Marcus Pollard, who in 2006 had just 12 receptions for 100 yards, and Simeon Rice, who in 2006 played in 8 games and recorded 2 sacks.
Brooks doesn't tell us what players are likely to decline in 2007; he merely reminds us about players that have already begun to decline in 2006. Predicting that these players are on the downsides of their careers is fairly easy.
In his commentaries on each player, Brooks does provide some analysis on why each player has declined. It's not really thorough, unique analysis, but it's something. His choices on which players will "continue to decline," however, don't show a lot of insight or knowledge.
Then again, ESPN's John Clayton has written a Suspension of Disbelief article on Jamal Lewis. This feature includes quotes from Lewis like "Sometimes change is good. I needed a fresh start. I needed one last year," "I'm 27 years old but I'm still fresh and still healthy [...] I had the ankle problems over the past two years, but I had the surgery. Mentally, I'm good. I just needed to get into the right situation," and "I don't buy the thought that people say I'm out of gas and I don't have anything in the tank."
Hell, Lewis has half-convinced me: these Suspension of Disbelief articles are always fairly convincing. I should probably be thanking Brooks for providing the necessary reality.