Q: Are You Ready For Some Football? (A: Yes.)
Without further ado, it’s time for the Greebytime Fearless Football Predictions. Those who have read the prior versions know that I have about a 25% hit rate…that is, I’m wrong about three times as often as I’m right.
Even still, it’s fun to make foolish predictions (after all, as the sadly annoying Chris Berman would say, “That’s why they play the games!), so let’s get it on.
The NFC is clearly, still, the inferior conference – a fact that both saddens me as a 49ers fan and gives me hope that it won’t be as hard for them to rise to the rightful top of that conference sooner than later. (But, not this year.) So let’s start there…
Once the most feared division, the Giants are now in a shambles (certainly, at the least, no threat to win the division) and the Redskins are similarly rebuilding -- Jason Campbell should be good, but nothing’s happening this season. The most talent is probably in Dallas, though two factors work heavily against them here. One, news today that Terry Glenn might miss the whole season, and two – the fact that Wade Phillips has NEVER won a playoff game. So, this division looks to be Philadelphia’s to lose, and I expect Donovan McNabb to have a great season in doing so.
I have to give this one back to the reigning NFC Champion, the Chicago Bears. They not only have the best defense by far, but the rest of the division is a complete mess. Minnesota might have the worst offense in the league except for Atlanta, and Detroit has tons of offensive promise but are still the Lions. A nice story would be the Packers making a run at things in what hopefully is Brett Favre’s last season, but they just don’t have the chops in doing so.
Yeesh. What is going on in the NFC? Seriously, once again, I stare at these teams wondering what garbage will rise to the top. Despite their performance last night, this is the Saints division to lose. With Brees, Colston, McAllister and Bush, that’s a lot of offense. But for those awarding them the entire NFC, I have to point out their slipshod defense and the fact that the wide receiver core is essentially untested. Colston was great last year but can he handle the #1 slot? And is Devery Henderson or Robert Meachem really going to be a solid #2 receiver? Hard to say. Still, the Panthers are likely the only real threat here – and I don’t much buy them either. That being said, they have the offense in Steve Smith and a solid if unspectacular running game and a solid enough defense that I’m giving them a Wild Card berth. Tampa Bay is a mess and Atlanta – despite the Sports Guy picking them as a surprise upside team – is going to be so terrible that the only consolation should be the #1 pick next season.
Ah, home. It’s where the heart is, in case you didn’t know. Shockingly, I think I’m not just a biased homer in stating that this might have the most talent in the NFC. Seattle should get a better year out of both Shaun Alexander and Matt Hasselback and since they’ve won this division three years running, they’re hard to count out. The Rams also look like they could be back, and my 49ers are up and coming with tons of upside on both sides of the ball. Frankly, I am not counting out the Cardinals either – with that offense they should – read, SHOULD – win plenty of games just by outscoring folks. That being said, I’m going to have to call a winner here – and sadly for my team, I think the Rams win this division and the Seahawks take the Wild Card. In any other division, the 49ers might eke out that WC berth.
Predicted NFC Champion: Otherwise known as “The Super Bowl Loser,” this is truly a hard call. But I can’t take the Saints and frankly, I feel a lot better giving it to Philadelphia. So, I’m going with the Eagles, despite the fact that if either Westbrook or McNabb gets hurt, they could truly be horrid.
Can we make this short and just point out that the Patriots are winning this division going away? OK, good. The Jets are not going to win the Wild Card either, so folks can relax on that.
The two talents here are the Bengals and the Ravens, and it says here they both make the playoffs. The Browns and Steelers are busy rebuilding and while Pittsburgh could be interesting, they’re not doing much here this year. I’ll give Cincy the division and Baltimore the Wild Card, just because everyone else picks it the other way around.
AFC South: Once again, a no-brainer division winner with the Colts running away here. Tennessee, Jacksonville and Houston all have large problems, and while I could see all three of them winning enough games to make the Colts division harder to win than one might think…none of them are going to play games in January.
Oakland, quite obviously, is terrible. (I do think Daunte Culpepper might be a hidden gem, but the odds are against it. Plus, the rest of the team isn’t very good.) I’m picking Oakland here as a possible team that could surprise a lot of folks – but frankly, that includes me. Kansas City is a mess because of an unsure QB situation and the fact that everyone seems to be sure that Larry Johnson is getting hurt this year. (Also, anyone who watched Hard Knocks would be hard pressed to bet money on KC this year.) I think San Diego wins the division with the best talent , and Denver is hot on their tails and takes the wild card.
AFC Champion: New England
Look, I just had to erase two paragraphs justifying why I felt okay about choosing San Diego, despite the fact that they’re coached by Norv Turner…until I realized I was just kidding myself. There’s no way Norvelle wins a ring, and clearly any AFC team should destroy the NFC. Then, I put Denver into the slot – but asking a QB essentially in his first year to lead a team that far is really asking too much. So I relented back to the obvious choice of the Patriots. It says here they stumble a bit out of the gates, with both the injury status of Randy Moss and (more relevantly) the four-game suspension of Rodney Harrison playing a role in that. But at the end of the day, they have the best talent, the best coach and it’s too hard to pick against them.
Other picks, just for fun:
Rookie of the Year: Folks seem poised to throw this award at either Calvin Johnson or Adrian Peterson. I’m just not sold on their playing time…and I’d normally want to give it to Marshawn Lynch, but I know that I’m biased in that he’s from Cal and also my 3rd running back on my fantasy team. So I’m going to dance out on a minor limb here and hand it to Brandon Jackson of the Packers.
MVP: LaDanian Tomlinson, until proven otherwise.
Biggest Bust: Larry Johnson is too easy since everyone thinks the 70009 carries he apparently had last season will take a toll on him. Instead, I’ll state that Reggie Bush just isn’t going to be the end-all, be-all that folks want him to be.
More stupid awards later, if I have the time.