NFL Preview, Greebytime Style
So the NFL season is upon us, and that’s such a wonderful thing I am fearful of being too effusive, too excited about it. Our Pick ‘Em league really rounded into shape over the past week – assuming anyone can identify and correspond with Oakland Haters and Spartans, we should have 41 teams, which I think is a record. Even if we don’t, we have enough teams to keep the same basic payout structure from last year – that’s a $75 payout per week, and then the remainder will be divided up between the top three overall teams. I’ll get to the details once it’s all sorted out in a week or so.
Now…for my fearless and always inaccurate predictions. I’m almost always wrong here, but it’s fun to step out onto the limb, even when it snaps.
One Prediction I Won’t Be Making: I’ve chosen the Colts for the Super Bowl before, and I’ve also bet on them each week in the playoffs, only to bang my head after falling for them year after year. I always look at people in bad relationships, who stick with someone who cheats on them, and wonder how they can be surprised each time it happens, as if the past had no bearing on the future. Well, I’m not falling for it again. I think the Colts are one of the better regular season teams, and I’ll be betting on them then – but as soon as it counts? I’ll take their opponent even if it’s the Jets (sorry, Seth.) Of course, this means the Colts will win the Super Bowl. And I’m okay with that.
The Worst Team in the NFL is… I’ve done some soul searching here, and tried to see if the 49ers really are the worst team and unequivocally I have to say no. The offense is improved from last season - Vernon Davis, Antonio Bryant and at least some improvement from both Alex Smith and Frank Gore should make this an acceptable if not terribly exciting team on offense. On D? OK…not good. Not good at all. And certainly an argument could be made that the Saints or Texans are the worst teams, but I think they’ll both surprise slightly on the upside. There are at least two other teams that I think are worse. One is the Tennessee Titans. Exhibit A is that they just signed Kerry Collins, in the last week of the preseason. Why? WHY? It can only be abject horror at Billy Volek - and remember, this team was already terrible last season. But I think they even sit back to the debacle that is this years New York Jets. With apologies once again to Seth Ruthen, I can’t really see a worse team than this – they just ‘upgraded’ their running game with Kevan Barlow who was cast out from the Niners! Their quarterbacks are fragile like bone china. And their defense is probably okay for fantasy purposes but will be death in the real world. You heard it here – the Jets will have the first pick in the 2007 Draft.
So…who is legitimate? In the NFC, I’ll guess that the following teams win their divisions - Seattle, Dallas, Carolina and Chicago, though I must say the NFC North looks horrid. I could easily see Chicago regressing this year and having a sleeper team like Minnesota or Detroit back into the playoffs, but I am not quite willing to make that leap. As for the Wild Cards? Tampa Bay is a choice I have to make – two many weapons on both sides of the ball to ignore, but I will say that Chris Simms does not give me confidence. The final slot? I shouldn’t admit how long I thought about this – there is an argument that the Giants can make that push, but Eli is, of course, Peyton’s younger brother and I expect him to take one step back before truly becoming an All-Pro on his own. But it’s impossible to ignore that NFC East, so I’ll take my (original) hometown Eagles. They could surprise this season with a rejuvenated Donovan McNabb and an overall team that is still pretty solid. But I’m going with CAROLINA as my NFC Champion.
And who am I picking the Panthers to meet in the Super Bowl? The following teams should win their divisions -- Denver, Indianapolis, Pittsburgh and New England. And count me in as someone who buys into the Miami hype – they’ll get a Wild Card berth if they don’t push NE out of the way first. Some pundits are picking San Diego and while I appreciate that they do get to feast on Oakland and an uninspiring Kansas City team twice a year, there is no way I’m picking Philip Rivers to take his team to the playoffs. I do like Jacksonville here – a veteran running back in Fred Taylor, a young quarterback who isn’t asked to do too much in Byron Leftwich and a pair of young receivers (Matt Jones, Ernest Wilford) should balance out one of the better young defenses in the league. But, at the end of the day, I can’t leave the Bengals out of the playoff picture – just too much talent to ignore. So who meets the Panthers? As noted, I won’t choose the Colts and I just think New England and Pittsburgh have too many holes, be it the open question of when Ben Roethlisberger is going to come down with spinal meningitis, or if Tom Brady will have to coax Irving Fryar out of retirement to catch a few passes. So, I’m taking DENVER as my AFC Champion.
Yep, my Super Bowl pick is Denver vs. Carolina, with Carolina winning it all. My guess is that the Super Bowl is the game where Jake Plummer completely implodes, making it easy for Denver to shuttle him off and install Jay Cutler at QB for 2007. Carolina just has too many weapons – that is, as long as Steve Smith can get at least one of his hamstrings healthy. Note that this pick has absolutely nothing to do with the Carolina cheerleaders and their brushes with the law. Ahem.
I’d be concerned about these picks, but I’m almost never right, so I might as well not lose any sleep over it, right?
Rookie of the Year: Is it possible to take “the field” against Reggie Bush? No? Then, I’ll go with Vernon Davis. I actually don’t think he’ll win – but the other candidates all need someone to get injured (Joseph Addai, Laurence Maroney, DeAngelo Williams) and I’m not banking on that.
Best Off-Season Signing: Terrell Owens. Yes, I hate the guy but he’s really going to help Dallas. Despite all the preseason shenanigans, most of which were created by the media, T.O. simply won’t be allowed to be T.O., and deep down he does want to win. Note that this could easily be the worst off-season signing, but now I think it’s enough to push Dallas to the top of the most competitive division in football.
Worst Off-Season Signing: - Let’s see…you have a terrible team with a lot of offensive talent that can’t gel. So, you hire Art Shell? And you sign Aaron Brooks at quarterback, possibly the dumbest man in the league? Al Davis, for shame.
Comeback Player of the Year: Daunte Culpepper. I don’t think he’ll be his old self – he ain’t gonna run like he used to – but his recovery from a gruesome injury and the arsenal he has around him will tilt the scales in his favor.
Alright, that’s it for now. Remember to get those picks in, and look for a weekly wrapup going forward. If you haven’t sent your checks in, DO IT NOW!