NFL Preview

So here comes the NFL season tomorrow. The lockout threatened to derail it, but neither side was stupid enough to let that happen. (I wouldn’t put anything past the owner’s greed.) Thanks to the lockout, though, all the dropping and signing and injuring that usually goes on over the summer was condensed into one month before the season began. That, combined with my wholly rational aversion to stupid worthless preseason games, has left me not quite able to absorb all the roster changes and junk that alters the NFL landscape from season to season. For example, I found out yesterday that Bob Sanders is a Charger (and in the time, it took me to type that he got hurt).

But just like all the analysts on TV, I’m not going to let a lack of knowledge keep me from commenting. Or making predictions. So every week — possible as part of a return of my weekly wrap up rambley bits — I will pick the winners of every game, as well as keep an embarrassing tally of how I am doing. Today, aside from picking this weekend’s games, I am going to make general predictions on how each division will end up.

AFC

AFC East

  1. New England Patriots. 12-4
  2. New York Jets. 10-6
  3. Miami Dolphins. 7-9
  4. Buffalo Bills. 5-11

I hate to pick the Pats, but I don’t think the Jets are actually getting better — prove me wrong, Mark Sanchez — and neither the Bills or the Dolphins look good. I expect neither team to be terrible, but they don’t have QBs or defenses good enough to get them to the playoff.

AFC South.

  1. Pittsburgh Steelers. 12-4
  2. Baltimore Ravens. 11-5
  3. Cleveland Browns. 6-10
  4. Cincinnati Bengals. 3-13

The Bengals blew up this off-season and are going to look like it. I expect the Browns to improve, but not enough to challenge the top 2 teams. It will come down to the Ravens and Steelers again and I expect the Steelers to continue to be slightly better, despite being last year’s Super Bowl loser.

AFC North.

  1. Indianapolis Colts. 10-6
  2. Houston Texans. 9-7
  3. Tennessee Titans. 6-10
  4. Jacksonville Jaguars. 5-11

Even if Peyton misses the first quarter of the season, the Colts win this weakened division. The Titans are significantly overhauled, but I don’t think they are better. Although if Hasselbeck stays healthy who knows. The Texans will under perform; it’s what they do. And the Jags have no idea what to do with quarterbacks and decided to implode the whole season. Enjoy the Blaine Gabbert era until Del Rio feels the heat again and axes him. Look, Jags management, he is willing to take radical, destructive steps to appear to improve the team and keep his job.

AFC West.

  1. Oakland Raiders. 10-6
  2. San Diego Chargers. 8-8
  3. Kansas City Chiefs. 7-9
  4. Denver Broncos. 4-12

Denver has little, and will do little, but they are rebuilding. The Chiefs feasted on an easy schedule last year, but didn’t get better in the off-season. So unless they find a 2nd receiver they’ll come up short. Who does less with more than Norv Turner does? No one. Chargers are a talented but sinking ship. The Raiders should have won the division last year, and now have a good head coach. I’ll roll the dice with them

NFC

NFC East.

  1. Philadelphia Eagles. 11-5
  2. Dallas Cowboys. 9-7
  3. New York Giants. 9-7
  4. Washington Redskins. 4-12

The Eagles won’t be quite as good as people are expecting, but they will be good. The Giants and Cowboys will be kind of good, but probably not great. Either could get that last playoff spot, though. The Redskins will continue to be in disarray. They are starting Rex Grossman, for crying out loud!

NFC South.

  1. New Orleans Saints. 11-5
  2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers. 10-6
  3. Atlanta Falcons. 10-6
  4. Carolina Panthers. 3-13

The Panthers are going with Newton and will be crushed, though their running game will win them a few. The Bucs are rising and might make the playoffs. The Falcons feel like they have Super Bowl talent, and maybe they do. Or maybe I just want to see Tony Gonzalez get a ring. If Drew Brees stays healthy, the Saints are still the team to beat.

NFC North.

  1. Green Bay Packers. 13-3
  2. Minnesota Vikings. 10-6
  3. Detroit Lions. 8-8
  4. Chicago Bears. 7-9

This is a tough division to handy cap. The Packers will still be great. The Lions actually appear to be improving. The Bears will falter slightly. I’m putting the Vikings at number 2 because I have faith in Donovan McNabb. They still have Peterson, if they field a good defense, McNabb should be enough to get them into the playoffs.

NFC West.

  1. Arizona Cardinals. 10-6
  2. St. Louis Rams. 7-9
  3. Seattle Seahawks. 5-11
  4. San Francisco 49ers. 5-11

Kolb is enough of an improvement for the Cardinals to win the division. Bradford suffers a bit of a sophomore slump. The 49ers have Frank Gore and little else and the Seahawks traded Matt Hasselbeck for Tavaris Jackson at QB, that’s a major downgrade. The whole division is still kind of terrible.

Wild Cards:
AFC: Ravens, Jets.
NFC: Vikings, Falcons

Championship Games:

AFC: Colts over Steelers. (Known as picking with my heart, not my head)
NFC: Falcons over Eagles.

Super Bowl:

Colts over Falcons.

This week:

  • Packers over Saints, 27-20
  • Ravens over Steelers, 17-13
  • Bears over Falcons, 23-20
  • Browns over Bengals, 27-14
  • Colts over Texans, 24-21 (Crazy like a fox)
  • Titans over Jaguars, 17-14
  • Chiefs over Bills, 27-17
  • Eagles over Rams, 31-24
  • Bucs over Lions, 21-17
  • Cardinals over Panthers, 31-10
  • Vikings over Chargers, 31-28
  • Seahawks over 49ers, 23-21
  • Giants over Redskins, 31-28
  • Jets over Cowboys, 20-10
  • Pats over Dolphins, 31-17
  • Raiders over Broncos, 24-10
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