It’s the last week of the preseason, we’re days away from the start of college football, and the Mariners – at best – get to play spoiler. Now seems to be as good a time as any to bust out my predictions for the upcoming NFL season. You know, before my opinions get tainted by all the other predictions that are going to be coming out in the coming days.
As last year proved: I suck at predicting the records of all the teams. Forgetting the fact that the numbers have to somehow match, I’m just plain bad at it. I got something like three division winners correct (out of a possible eight) and something like six playoff teams out of a possible twelve.
With that firmly in mind, here’s how I see things going in 2011. I’m not going to predict the specific records, but I’ll do everything else.
I think the Jets are going to jump up and steal the AFC East from the Pats. This is their year. They may not win the Super Bowl, but they’re going to be formidable in the playoffs.
I see Baltimore taking down Pittsburgh to win the AFC North. Right here, you’ve got two up-and-comers who very well could lock down the top two seeds in the AFC.
Indy’s reign of terror is going to end in 2011. Bank on it! I just have the feeling injuries are going to catch up to them. This neck thing with Peyton Manning might not do him in, but the inexperience along his offensive line just might. And I’ll tell you another thing, I’m staying the HELL away from the Houston Texans (or, how they should forever be referred to: Chic Pick Houston Texans). Instead, I’m tossing a wild card your way and going with Tennessee to win the AFC South. Because I’m a homer. And since their division plays both the AFC North and the NFC South, I see the winner winning it with a 9-7 record. I just think with Hasselbeck’s leadership, they’re going to win just enough division games to break all ties. Honestly though (and I know this is a bullshit throw-in, but go with me here), I wouldn’t be surprised if Jacksonville is in the hunt and ends up 2nd in this division.
I’m buying San Diego to win the AFC West like it’s the fucking antidote. No way Kansas City goes back to the playoffs; no way Oakland does either.
As for the Wild Cards, I’m playing this shit safe and going with New England and Pittsburgh. Although, to be fair, something tells me the Steelers won’t make it back. Since I have nothing to lose, I don’t know why I’m not taking more of a chance here, but whatever. I gotta figure, with the way Pittsburgh is especially stacked, the only way they don’t win that division is if a bunch of key members get critically injured, but again, whatever. I yam what I yam.
In the NFC West, I guess I’m going to settle with Arizona. It’ll probably be neck & neck with them and St. Louis, but I’m just not buying the Rams yet. If they couldn’t come in here and beat Charlie Whitehurst to take the division last year, why would I think they’d run away with things this year?
In the NFC South, I got your out-of-left-field pick right here: Tampa Bay. LOVE me some Josh Freeman! They were 10-6 last year (including 6-2 on the road) and I just think they’re loaded on defense. I don’t see the Saints making the playoffs.
In the NFC Norris, I’m NOT going to be the big lame asshole. I’m taking another shot in the dark and going with the Detroit Lions! A lot of people like this team to make some noise, but I bet you not very many have them winning a division over Super Bowl-winning Green Bay. And, that’s just my point: how often does the Super Bowl winner come back and dominate a second straight year? Not bloody often.
In the NFC East, I want ever-so-badly to dislike the Eagles. So, with that in mind, I’m picking Dallas. I think they’re poised to be one of those comeback teams.
For the Wild Cards, I like Atlanta because Matt Ryan will be my fantasy quarterback until the day I die; and I like the Giants. THAT’S RIGHT EAGLES! I think Michael Vick is going to take a huge step back, and I think your bonanza of a free agency is going to blow up in your fucking faces! Suck it, Eagles! You have, for the first time all month, been doubted by a sports blogger! How does it feel? (it SHOULD feel like you’re locks to make the playoffs because I’m a huge dunderhead, so don’t be so glum).
Here’s the thing, though, about why I hate people who make predictions: they constantly base their picks on what happened LAST year. Take a shot! Predict some injuries! Go crazy! Of course, they won’t. Just count how many sports pundits predict either Green Bay, Pittsburgh, or Green Bay AND Pittsburgh to make the Super Bowl. It makes me sick.
You want MY Super Bowl pick? New York Jets and the Atlanta Falcons. On the one hand, I’m going to hate it, because I hate watching defensive-dominant teams like the Jets (especially in the playoffs); on the other hand, I’m going to love it because (after the Seahawks), I’m a pretty big fan of the Falcons. Not enough to keep close tabs on them, but enough to root for them (when they’re not playing the Seahawks).
So, in short:
1. NY Jets
2. San Diego
5. New England
1st Round: Baltimore over Pittsburgh, New England over Tennessee.
2nd Round: Baltimore over San Diego, NY Jets over New England
AFC Championship: NY Jets over Baltimore
2. Tampa Bay
6. New York
1st Round: New York over Detroit, Atlanta over Arizona
2nd Round: New York over Dallas, Atlanta over Tampa Bay
NFC Championship: Atlanta over New York
Super Bowl: Atlanta over NY Jets
League MVP: Matthew Stafford
Super Bowl MVP: Matt Ryan
And, as a final teaser (to a post I’m going to write later): the Seattle Seahawks will be 2-14 and have the worst record in the NFL. How this happens, considering we play both Cincinnati and Washington (who will surely be in the running for the Andrew Luck Sweepstakes) is anybody’s guess. But, if I’m going to buy in to this theory (at the end of the post), I’m going whole hog.