Wednesday, August 30, 2006

AFC North Predictions

Pittsburgh Steelers
I doubted the Steelers all the way to the Super Bowl last year and they really gave me the finger. A Super Bowl ring finger to boot. I've learned my lesson. Kind of. I don't think they'll win it all but I am going to pick them to win this division. They still are stacked on defense and the offensive line. They may miss Bettis in short yardage situations but again that offensive line will open up some holes even for Parker or Staley. Roethlisberger is solid and they are well coached. It won't be easy but I think they'll be seeing the playoffs again.

Division Prediction: 1st
Playoff Prediction: One and done

Baltimore Ravens
I'm picking the Ravens to take a Wild Card spot based solely on Steve McNair. That might be just a little crazy but I'm sticking to it. They still have a tough defense led by Ed Reed and Ray Lewis and if McNair can stay healthy (it's a big if I know) and their running game can get back to business after taking a year off then they will be a tough team to play. This may not be the smart pick for a Wild Card but didn't we already establish that I'm not always the sharpest tool in the shed? (Just don't call me a hoe). My gut tells me it may just be the Ravens year to do something.'s either that or just some really bad pizza that hasn't settled yet.

Division Prediction: 2nd
Playoff Prediction: Wild Card game

Cincinnati Bengals
After watching the Bengals dismantle the Packers on Monday it would seem fairly silly not to pick them for the playoffs. Hell they may be a Super Bowl team this year. And on paper it's the right pick. Except Carson Palmer's knee is not on paper, it's on the field week after week. I just think one of these feel good, miraculous comeback stories from the offseason (Brees, Culpepper, Palmer, etc.) has got to end badly. Wouldn't the odds say one of these guys will have some bad luck and get reinjured? So I rolled the dice with McNair staying healthy for the Ravens and I'm betting that the opposite happens for Palmer. If he's healthy then the Bengals are going to be fine but if he misses significant time with knee swelling or reinjury then I think they are screwed. By the way, the orange socks have got to go.

Division Prediction 3rd
Playoff Prediction: Bad luck will kill them again

Cleveland Browns
This could be one of those teams that catch everybody by surprise. Crennel is a Bellichick disciple and supposedly he is installing a winning attitude again. Frye, Edwards, Winslow, Green, and Droughns have shown flashes of talent on offense but will they become scary? I'm not sold on their defense even with ex-pat Willie McGinest. They'll improve and maybe contend next year.

Division Prediction: last
Playoff Prediction: still looking to the future

Sunday, August 27, 2006

AFC East Predictions

Two teams will compete and two teams will look again to the draft. Hopefully the Dolphins can make this division somewhat competitive this season.

New England Patriots
Look this is a no-brainer as long as Tom Brady is at the helm and the Patriots have a decent team to surround him. True, they have lost some key players in the last few years and maybe it caught up with them in the playoffs last season. I think (translated: I hope) that this will hurt the Pats again this year but the cupboard is not bare enough on either offense or defense to sink them into the abyss that that they rightfully deserve to plunge headfirst into screaming and on...(what can I say, I'm a Ram fan who has never recovered from Super Bowl XXXVI). Anyway, Brady will have another outstanding season and prove again that he is the best QB in the game. Dillon will be better than he was last year unless he is relegated to the bench by a sharp looking Laurence Maroney. But whether they share time or Maroney takes over full time, the running game is going to balance out this offense again. That's not good news for the AFC. Richard Seymour will lead a defense that won't dominate but will still be better than average. I hate to do this but I'm picking them to rebound from last year's playoff loss and win it all. Excuse me now while I go urinate on a picture of Bill Belichick.

Division Prediction: 1st
Playoff Prediction: Super Bowl Champs

Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins used to be my AFC team of choice when Marino was around (my passing game bias again) and maybe Culpepper can spark that Dolphin love again.
I think this team is significantly better with Culpepper and as long as "getting his roll on" refers to on-field activities for him this year then he's going to make Miami fans very happy. Ronnie Brown is going to have a good year running the ball but it's the wideouts that are going to really to impress if Culpepper comes close to regaining his form. Chris Chambers enjoyed a breakout season last year with 82 catches and 1118 yards (should have happened sooner) and this year he will become a household name. They will still wreak havoc on defense with Thomas and Taylor still the headliners. They are not going to catch the Patriots but I think they see post-season action.

Division Prediction: 2nd
Playoff Prediction: Wildcard game

New York Jets
The Jets are playing QB roulette again. I'm not sure why if Pennington is healthy. I doubt he can ever be the QB he was in 2002 but I do think he deserves one more shot to prove he can be. They ought to go ahead and name him the starter already. The buzz is that Clemens could be good but even if that's true it wouldn't hurt him to ride the bench while the rebuilding offensive line gets some experience under their belt. With Curtis Martin out and Marshall Faulk gone, my two favorite running backs in the league are pretty much done. It's a little sad. With Martin's injury the Jets are really thin at RB and Kevin Barlow is not the answer. Unless someone surprises (like a Willie Parker situation) us they are going to have to rely on the QB's arm and with Pennington or any other that's pretty iffy. Defensively, Vilma is good at linebacker but since cloning him is illegal right now their D is pretty much screwed. They'll get torched.

Division Prediction: 3rd
Playoff Prediction: Hopeless

Buffalo Bills
This team would have better off sticking with Losman for the entire season in 2005. Holcomb is a backup period. He' s good backup to have but the Bills need to realize Losman is the one with talent. Whether he fulfills that talent is another question but they need to give him a chance. So he sucked at times last year, big deal. The Bills weren't going anywhere anyway and I've got news for them this year--they won't sniff the playoffs again. So for Hell's sake leave Losman as the starter for the entire year and really get an idea of whether or not to draft or trade for a QB next year. Ok then, I got that off my chest. Anyway, turning to defense; the switch to cover-2 defensive scheme will probably fit their players better but the D is still a work in progress. --As is their hunt for a playoff position.

Division Prediction: 4th
Playoff Prediction: nope

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

NFC South Predictions

I think this division is going to be a good one. This is it for my NFC predictions. Next week it's on to the AFC. Soon the season will be upon us and we can see how really useless pre-season predictions are. Wow that statement totally undermines everything that I'm about to write. Oh well.

Carolina Panthers
Despite losing linebacker Will Witherspoon to the Rams (yes!) the Panthers still have plenty of studs left on defense. Ma'ake Kemoeatu, Rucker, Kris Jenkins, and Julius Peppers should drive QBs crazy as a defensive line and Dan Morgan and Mike Minter headline a decent group of linebackers and defensive backs. It's really the defense that has carried this team the past few years but they will need another solid year from QB Jake Delhomme and WR Steve Smith. If DeAngelo Williams and Deshaun Foster can make their running game a threat and Keyshawn Johnson can take a little pressure off Smith then the Panthers should be fine. Then again maybe they won't. The smart thing to do would be to pick these guys for the division, maybe even the Super Bowl. But my sister tells me I'm the stupid one in the family so of course I'm picking them to miss the playoffs.

Division Prediction: 2nd
Playoff Prediction: Just Miss

Tampa Bay Bucs
I like the Bucs. I think their defense is going to be really good and their offense better than it was last year. Both Simms and Carnell Williams should take another step in their progression and they will be in the hunt for the division title right until the end. That's when Gruden's head will explode and everything gets very messy. On second thought I think I'll pick them to win the division. They were 11-5 last year and Simms is out to prove that blonde is beautiful.

Division Prediction: 1st
Playoff Prediction: won't get to the championship game

Atlanta Falcons
Another good defense makes this southern division loaded on that side of the ball. It's the Falcons offense that worries people. What Vick will we see? An exciting runner but otherwise mediocre QB that was exhibited last year? Or the exciting runner that played pretty well two years ago and has actually improved his touch and accuracy this year? I'm hoping for the latter. Warrick Dunn is aging but still is quick as a cat and has the moves that make him dangerous. He is the most underrated running back in the game today hands down. Crumpler is solid at TE and will save Vick many times like he did last season. Unfortunately it's another season missing the playoffs for the birds.

Division Prediction: 3rd
Playoff Prediction: on their couches

New Orleans Saints
How stoked are they that the Houston Texans are dumb asses? Reggie Bush is a real coup and although the Saint's line isn't good enough for the running game to really thrive, Bush is Bush so sometimes he doesn't need a line. Deuce McAllister will get plenty of carries also and I don't care if Brees is not fully healed, he will be better than the Aaron Brooks nightmare (how Brooks continues to be a starter is one of the great mysteries of our day. Sort of like crop circles. Oh wait...haven't they been proved to be a hoax?....hey!....just like Brook's career. ---Anyway, I'm a big Drew Brees fan. If he turns out to fully recover, his departure might be the biggest mistake the Chargers have ever made. Still, the Saints have a lot of holes in their defense and other areas and despite much improvement they are still a year away from competing for the division.

Division Prediction: last
Playoffs: Maybe next year

Friday, August 18, 2006

NFC North Predictions

The Northern boys get their preview here and I'll admit, I'm not real high on any team. I think the division winner is the only one that will be seeing post-season action.

Chicago Bears
The Bear defense fueled a surprising season in 2005 and I think they can be just as tough this year. But being good doesn't always mean luck will be with you. I mean let's face it, with an offense that was as bad as the Bear's was last year you have to have a few breaks, even with a ferocious D. That raises the question, will the offense be better this year? Running backs Thomas Jones and Cedric Benson should be pretty good but the Achilles heel has always been the dude behind center. Rex Grossman is going to get a shot this year (unless he just totally stinks it up in practices and the remaining pre-season games) but I still get the feeling Brian Griese will be the man by mid season either because Grossman's injured or just flat out sucks.
The Defense will save them until that point and then Griese will hold them together until the playoffs.

Division Prediction: 1st
Playoff Prediction: One and done

Minnesota Vikings
After the season Culpepper and Moss had a couple of years ago for this team you would have won a lot of bets if you had said one would be with the Dolphins now and one with the Raiders. The Vikes are in overhaul mode though and now it's up to Brad Johnson, Chester Taylor, and an O-line headlined by Steve Hutchinson to score enough points to win games. Yes I did say Chester Taylor. I know he played well enough for some in Baltimore to prefer him to Jamal Lewis when he was struggling but I still don't see him as the answer in the backfield. Look for Mewelde Moore to share time. They will beat some teams they shouldn't and lose to some teams they shouldn't. In other words they'll be a .500 team.

Division Prediction:2nd
Playoff prediction: Nope

Detroit Lions
Mooch was too soft. New Coach Rod Marinelli is a hard ass. Supposedly that alone makes them better. Maybe that's true. Maybe it's also true that GM Matt Millen is lucky he still has his job. Draft bungles, bad facial hair, and hunting down people who show up with "Millen sucks" signs are all part of his profile. He also runs a brainwashing clinic on the side which the Lions Owner successfully completed last season. Mike Martz is the new offensive coordinator and as long as they make sure he has no control over when time outs are called he should help Detroit's offense. Marinelli also needs to retain veto power on play calls if the situation calls for a more conservative approach. For example when it's third and three on the opposing team's 6 yard line, your down by 10 approaching the 4th quarter, then perhaps a reverse call using a running back that has never practiced the play might not be the correct call (Yes I'm still bitter about this from the Rams 2005 season). Anyway, Kitna or McCown should be better than Harrington at QB and perhaps Kevin Jones or rookie Brian Calhoun will keep things afloat in the running game. The defense will be aggressive but I'm really not sure how good they will be.

Division Prediction: 3rd
Playoff Prediction: Not this year

Green Bay Packers
I hope the Packers take this division but being the cynic that I am, I'm picking them last. They didn't do anything to make their team better this year except have a decent draft. I thought A.J. Hawk was a great pick. He seems in the Ray Lewis, Urlacher mold. And in case you haven't heard, Brett Favre is back. Whether he regrets that 3 months from now is yet to be seen. I would love to see Ahman Green get back to what he was a few years ago. He's always been one of my favorite running backs in the league. Maybe it's because we are both big Batman fans. Ahman and I both wear our favorite caped crusader's P.J.s to bed at night and keeping a grappling hook under our know just in case we ever need to make a quick escape out the window..... At any rate, I will root for a good season for the Pack and hope that I'm wrong about them.

Division Prediction: Last
Playoff Prediction: It might be a while

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

NFC East Predictions

This is the division that many are calling the most competitive in the NFL this coming season. It's certainly a far cry from what it was a couple of years ago when the only team people weren't laughing at was the Eagles. I'm still laughing at the Cowboy's Jerry Jones but that's strictly a defense mechanism that serves to keep the image of his very creepy face out of my nightmares. Anyhoo, this also might be the toughest division to pick a winner. I mean you could legitimately make a case for any of the teams to take it. There is no way you can predict the order of finish here and not come out looking like an idiot 4 months later. Obviously it's a no-risk venture for me then, so lets get to it.

Washington Redskins
Portis is out for a bit with the shoulder injury. Unless the injury is more serious than it appears he should be back by the 2nd game of the season. But then again, he didn't want to play in the pre-season anyway. One question though--if he was a little wary of injury in the pre-season, what the hell was he doing trying to pull a Hulk Hogan on somebody during an interception return? Anyway---Mark Brunell was another QB who surprised me last year. I didn't think he had much left in the tank but he played pretty decent for most of the year and most importantly got the ball to super smurf Santana Moss. Now they've got Brandon LLoyd and Antwaan Randle El to compliment Moss plus Chris Cooley (another fellow Utah State grad....go Aggies) looks like the real deal at Tight End. If Portis can get healthy and have another great year then Washington should be just fine. Of course I'm assuming Brunell is going to stay healthy and that he won't revert back to the "what the hell was that throw" kind of QB he was two years ago.
On the Defensive side of the ball everyone knows about Sean Taylor. Thug on the streets, thug on the field. It's ok to though on the field because violence is like kinda encouraged. I think the rest of the Defense will hold up and Washington makes some noise again this year.

division Prediction: 1st
Playoff Prediction: NFC championship game

Dallas Cowboys
So Bledsoe is the "guy" but Tony Romo plays the entire freaking pre-season game this past weekend. What do we read into that? Maybe nothing. With Bledsoe's mobility, injury from a sack is a real possibility and holding him out a lot of pre-season action is not a bad call. In fact many teams like the Redskins (cough..Clinton Portis..cough) might want to think about doing the same type of thing. But then again Romo played pretty well and if Bledsoe struggles this year you wonder if he might get the hook. Parcells isn't exactly a point in his career where he is going to display huge amounts of patience. Speaking of which, his patience with Terrell Owens will of course be tested but if Owens plays to his ability Parcells blood pressure will be severely curtailed. I hate the guy but he definitely makes the Cowboy offense better. If Terry Glenn can have a season close to what he did last year (62 rec., 1136 yrds) the Cowboy's air attack will be pretty scary. As far as the running backs go, Jones and Barber are adequate but I wonder which one will really grab the job and (pardon the pun) run with it. Jones would seem to be ready to breakout but I guess we'll see.
I really look for the Dallas Defense to put on a show this year. Although Roy Jones is not the greatest cover safety, he is one of the biggest hitters in the league and sets the tone for the defense. If Ware, Spears, Ellis, Carpenter etc. can play to Parcell's expectations this is going to be a tough group to score on.

division Prediction: 2nd
Playoff Prediction: Wild Card

New York Giants
Looking at this team's offense you see the obvious. A great running game, decent receivers, and a QB who continually looks like he just crapped his pants. And oh yeah, Eli also needs to up his completion percentage and generally improve his skills. I think Manning will improve but the undersized Tiki Barber needs to stay healthy for their offense to put up points. This offensive group is talented but just a bit volatile. Are Shockey and Burress going to toe Coughlin' seriously anal line this year? Is a talented Defense going to improve with new additions (Arrington, Madison, & rookie DE Mathias Kiwanuka)?
I see them getting banged around with injuries that will hurt them down the stretch. I don't think they will be worse than last year but they have a tough schedule and that is always something that gets understated in the fortunes of teams year in and year out.

Division Prediction: 3rd
Playoff Prediction: Just miss

Philadelphia Eagles
I'm still trying to figure out why the Eagles did nothing to improve their offense from last season. They still don't have a legitimate wideout (which is inexcusable with all the good ones in the league) and I would hope that just because the last time they went out and got themselves a receiver it didn't work out so well, they wouldn't get gunshy. They just needed to get somebody that didn't have WARNING stamped on his forehead. That's not that hard. Also Brian Westbrook is a nice RB to have on your team but do you really expect him to be a go-to guy? They still need a better option at this position. McNabb is going to be left all alone again and will still try to do too much. He'll probably get hurt again as a result. I think it's a going to be a very long year for the Eagles. The part that will really hurt for them is to watch T.O. and the Cowboys go to the playoffs while they are on their couches again. And speaking of sitting at home and watching the braindead box---at least McNabb's Chunky Soup commercials have died down a bit. If they start playing them at every break in an NFL game again I may have to kill someone

Division Prediction: Last
Playoff Prediction: Nada

Friday, August 11, 2006

NFC West Predictions

As promised here are some NFL predictions. I'll start with the NFC West. Of course these predictions are based on key players from each team remaining healthy for most of the season. If Marc Bulger goes down then so do the Rams. If Shaun Alexander or Hasselbeck are out for the season then it's probably not going to be a great season for the Seahawks. You get the picture.

St. Louis Rams
I am a Ram fan so I'll start with them. Being emotionally tied to this team explains the streaks of grey in my hair and the bloodshot eyes that tend to hang around from September to December. Anyway, under the leadership of Elmer Fudd…I mean Mike Martz, the Rams did one thing I like a lot (pass the ball) and one thing I hate a lot (lose). I’m hopeful new head coach Scott Linehan will still employ a passing attack and not turn into the Baltimore Ravens. Just because they have a big back like Steven Jackson doesn't mean they need to hand it to him 30 times a game. Torry Holt, Isaac Bruce, and Kevin Curtis are too good of receivers to be blocking all day. That said, Jackson will be used more than in the past which is good. And Linehan will protect Bulger better than Martz did, which is key because Bulger is as slow as a dial up connection to the internet. The Rams defense should be better under Jim Haslett, but still lacks a few players to truly make them a threat. I’m biased obviously, but I believe the Rams will be a better team this year and the fact that Martz won’t be around to expend all timeouts by the end of every third quarter just can’t be stressed enough.

Division Prediction: 2nd
Playoff Prediction: Wild Card game
(yes the blinders are on. I told you I’m biased.)

Seattle Seahawks
Matt Hasselbeck surprised me last season. At the beginning of last season I had him pegged as an inconsistent QB who would probably never rise to the level Mr. Cheesy Mustache guy (Holmgren) thought he should. And I said so. Then about mid season, Hasselbeck said, “Armchair QB?, “Who the @#$% is he?, What the #@%* does he know” "$#@% him!!”.
Suddenly he started playing out of his mind and entered the realm of franchise QB (and I never got a thank you card or anything….bastard) . Sure he had Alexander and a good O-line which helped, but he started making plays and without his consistency and clutch throws down the stretch they never would have played in the Super Bowl. They still have the core of team from last year and they should win this division again. Hopefully not as easily as they did last year. If they are through bitching about the Super Bowl (legitmate bitching though...those calls really sucked) and are ready to concentrate on this year, they should make a run at it again.

Division Prediction: 1st
Playoff Prediction: NFC championship game

Arizona Cardinals
Last year was supposed to be the Cardinals year. Didn’t happen. Now many are saying it’s this year. I mean they have two studs at receiver in Fitzgerald and Boldin, a star running back in Edgerrin James, and a quarterback who...well... can drive you crazy. Warner can throw for 300 yards a game but he will need to cut down on his turnovers and play better when it counts. It would also help if he could fit wife Brenda with a wig so we can stop laughing when the camera pans to her. Anyway, back to the “Edge”. Will he be as good as he was in Indy? Certainly he and Manning complimented each other and things opened up in the running and passing game because of their skills. I just don’t see him as a one man show so he will need Warner to be a threat so that the play action can work effectively. I think the Cardinals will be better than last year but will miss out on the playoffs again this year.

Division Prediction: 3rd
Playoff Prediction: Not this year

San Francisco 49ers
Everyone is saying Alex Smith looks a lot more confident and poised in training camp than he did when the season ended last year. Could be that’s true. Could be true also that he resembles an elf in Lord of the Rings and he doesn’t have Brian Urlacher slamming him to the turf yet either. We’ll see how poised he really is after his first couple of big hits. I’m rooting for him though. I watched him in college at Utah and I thought he was a good guy. His O-line still sucks (although adding Larry Allen should help a little), and his receivers actually could be worse this year. 1st round draftee Vernon Davis might be a nice safety valve for Smith at TE but he still doesn’t have a great running back to take pressure off him. I see another long year for the 2nd year quarterback. The defense is still a mess as well and it will take another good draft with some free agents thrown into the mix before this ship starts to turn around.

Division Prediction: 4th
Playoff Prediciton: ummm…no

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Countdown to Pigskin Heaven

Ahhh. Football is in the air. Can you smell it? At this point in the summer I am pretty much salivating like a rabid dog at the very mention of the NFL and College Football. I find myself even watching and nodding my head to Sean Salisbury on ESPN, which is troubling on all kinds of levels.

What is it about football that enables it to hold us as emotional hostages? Is it the fantasy element which has captured so many fans attention, interest, and at times cash? That certainly helps but I'll be honest, although interested in it, I have never played fantasy football (it's blasphemy I know but at another time I'll outline my reasons for this sin). No it's something about the game itself that appeals to fans and has helped it become the top sport in America. Maybe it's the violence or the fact that games are played on a weekly basis, thus ramping up the anticipation. Whatever it is, I'm hooked and so are you most likely.

So it's time for me to start talking some football. Soon I'll start posting my predictions on what I think will happen this year. In football that is. Other predictions like my end of the world theories can be found on another site entitled "We're all gonna die horrible gruesome deaths so eat lots of cheese while you can". .....Ahem. Anyway, they ought to be pretty amusing to check back on later on in the season. The football predictions, not the doomsday stuff cause that's serious business. Now if you'll excuse me I need to go make sure my Sunday NFL satellite ticket has been renewed....and check my cheese bin.