Are You Ready For Some Football?

So the NFL kicks off in full force tomorrow.  There was actually a real game the other night, but you get the point.  Anyway, I thought I’d do a quick rundown of how I think the season will pan out.  Predictions are notoriously difficult, but I’ve always wanted to be a sportswriter, so I’ll take a shot at it anyway.  Here goes:

AFC East

1.  Miami Dolphins

2.  New England Patriots

3.  Buffalo Bills

4.  New York Jets

I know what you’re going to say:   Tom Brady, blah blah, Bill Belichek blah blah, Patriots dynasty blah blah.  Frankly, I’m sick to death of New England.  Nearly everyone has the Pats playing for the title, if not winning it outright and , admittedly, on paper, they look good.  Really good.  But…  Tom Brady is coming back from a major, season ending injury, and he did get a little banged up in the preseason.  I’m betting he ends up missing some time this year with a shoulder injury.  And this season, unlike last year, there is no long-time, well-studied backup to fill in without missing a beat.  Tom’s backup this year?  A rookie.  When Brady goes down, so do the Pats.  And that’s not to mention discarding virtually every veteran defensive leader on the team (Mike Vrabel, Teddy Bruschi, Richard Seymour).  The Dolphins are not without question marks, either, however.  Can Chad Pennington do it again?  They won an awful lot of close games during last season’s surprise 11-5 division title run.  If the offensive line is solid, the running game will be good, the defense is top notch and they can do it again.  Buffalo made some big offseason moves (T.O.), but he’s not playing quarterback.  If he didn’t like Donovan McNabb, Tony Romo or Jeff Garcia, then Trent Edwards is in real trouble.  The Jets just suck.  S-U-C-K, suck, suck, suck!  Rookie head coach who made his chops with some of the best defensive players ever to suit up during his time in Baltimore, and he has a rookie QB.  Last season’s rookie QB success (Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco) may have spoiled us to expect great things right off the bat, but it almost never happens.  Sorry Mark Sanchez, not happening this year, either.

AFC North

1.  Pittsburgh Steelers

2.  Baltimore Ravens

3.  Cincinnati Bengals

4.  Cleveland Browns

The Steelers are the defending champs, returning nearly everyone, and they already started out by beating the team who had the best record in the league last season on Thursday night.  Baltimore has a great running game, top flight defense, strong-armed QB and no wide receivers.  If Braylon Edwards could pull an Art Modell and dump Cleveland for the Charm City, this team would be sure-fire Superbowl contenders.  As it is, they’re not that far off.  Defense is aging a bit, though, better get it done soon.  Cincinnati may actually surprise some people this year and stay in the wild card hunt.  This division is too top-heavy to get it done, but they have a shot to have a respectable season.  The less said about Cleveland, the better.

AFC South

1.  Indianapolis Colts

2.  Houston Texans

3.  Jacksonville Jaguars

4.  Tennessee Titans

That’s right, I picked Tennessee dead last.  The defense won’t be as good, we’re about due for a Kerry Collins implosion, and every one else in the division is actually pretty good.   Chris Johnson is scary good, however, and Jeff Fisher may be the best coach in the entire league, not to mention the most unheralded.  Still, last place it is.  Jacksonville always does better when they are no expectations on them, unlike  the disappointing last season which started with Superbowl predictions and ended ugly.  Houston could actually win this division if Matt Schaub stays healthy.  They have all the tools on both sides of the ball to get it done.  I’m picking Indy to win because of Peyton Manning.  One of these seasons, the wheels are going to fall off, I just don’t think it’s this year.  And it doesn’t hurt that the bar’s a little lower, 10 wins might win the division this year.

AFC West

1.  San Diego Chargers

2.  Oakland Raiders

3.  Kansas City Chiefs

4.  Denver Broncos

Is there a more lopsided division in all of football?  San Diego is legit, one of the top teams in the league.  Every one else here is lousy.  It doesn’t really matter the order of the bottom three, none of them will win more than 6 games, mostly against each other.  Josh McDaniels in Denver is already a dead man walking before his first official game as head coach kicks off, and if the Bears and Jay Cutler perform this season, he may not even make it all 16.  Kansas City is in full rebuilding mode, and in a division this bad, they could win as many as 7 games but that would be likely three more than they ought to.  I’m picking the Raiders second because, well, I don’t know why.  I have to pick somebody here.  The Chargers can lock this division up before Halloween.

AFC Playoffs

1.  San Diego Chargers

2.  Pittsburgh Steelers

3.  Miami Dolphins

4.  Indianapolis Colts

5.  Houston Texans

6.  Baltimore Ravens

NFC East

1.  Philadelphia Eagles

2.  Dallas Cowboys

3.  Washington Redskins

4.  New York Giants

Did I just pick the Giants last?  Yup.  Remember how bad they looked offensively last year after Plaxico Burress shot himself?  Get ready for 16 games of that.  Eli Manning is simply not that good.  And while they have some outstanding individual defenders, the overall defense is nowhere near as good as the one that won the Superbowl two years ago.  It also doesn’t help that, like the AFC South, everyone in this division is pretty good.  The Redskins will be surprisingly solid, the Cowboys, if the scoreboard stays out of the way, will be, too.  Both of those teams are legit wild card contenders.  The Eagles, however, are a cut above them all, especially if they figure out how to use Michael Vick effectively.

NFC North

1.  Chicago Bears

2.  Minnesota Vikings

3.  Green Bay Packers

4.  Detroit Lions

Surprisingly, the key to the Bears season is the defense for a change, not the offense.  Jay Cutler, Matt Forte and the crew will score some points.  I think the defense will rebound, thanks to not having to be on the field 45 minutes of every game, and eek out a close division race with the Vikings.  Say what you want about Brett Favre, and lots of people have, but this team has the best running back on the planet in Adrian Peterson, and one of the best defenses, especially against the run.  Both of these teams are heading for 12+ win seasons.  Green Bay has a shot at a wild card, if their defense gets its act together.  Aaron Rodgers looks like he may be for real, but last season, they couldn’t stop anybody.  They’re decent, but not in the same class as Chicago and Minnesota.  Detroit, well, they’re probably win at least one more game than last year.

NFC South

1.  New Orleans Saints

2.  Atlanta Falcons

3.  Carolina Panthers

4.  Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tampa Bay coach Raheem Morris has apparently decided to challenge Josh McDaniels to see which over-matched rookie head coach gets fired first.  I would like Carolina a little better if they had done something, anything about the quarterback position.  Now I watched the playoff game against the Cardinals last year.  I saw Jake Delhomme look like the reject from the World League he is.  I have no idea how, after that season-crushing effort, the Panthers decided it would be a good idea to give him a contract extension and a raise.  The Falcons are solid.  I expect they’ll take a little step back, but still be in good wild card position, and maybe take the division if the Saints can’t get their defense together.  This year, I think New Orleans will be good enough on defense  not to undermine one of the most explosive and high-scoring offensive units in the league.

NFC West

1.  Arizona Cardinals

2.  San Francisco 49ers

3.  Seattle Seahawks

4.  St. Louis Rams

What is it with the western divisions?  Arizona is the only team here with a snowball’s chance of seeing the postseason.  San Fran and Seattle might, with a little luck, get to 8 wins, but the Rams are just bad.  As long as Kurt Warner stays upright, Arizona wins this in a walk.  And if the defense builds on last season’s playoff run, they’ve got an excellent chance to break the Superbowl loser curse and  get back to the big game.

NFC Playoffs

1.  Philadelphia Eagles

2.  Chicago Bears

3.  Arizona Cardinals

4.  New Orleans Saints

5.  Minnesota Vikings

6.  Atlanta Falcons

Overall, The NFC is way better than the AFC.  I can see San Diego and Pittsburgh battling it out in a tough AFC Championship game, with the Chargers finally getting back to the big game.  In the NFC, you pick it.  The Eagles, Bears, Vikings, Cardinals could all take the conference crown.  I’m picking Arizona and Minnesota to play in the NFC Championship game, with the Cardinals booking a return to the big game.  Once there, however, San Diego wins another thriller.

Of course, I could be completely wrong.

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Published in: on September 12, 2009 at 6:06 pm  Leave a Comment  
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