Well, the 2008 season begins tomorrow and I have yet to make some wild ass predictions for this season. So here it is, my breakdown of the entire NFL and how I see the season unfolding starting this Thursday!
I have linked each teams blog to their name and I've also created some W/L charts for each team that will be linked through their predicted records. Also, I fully expect my predictions to go to hell by Week 2, but I feel that by seasons end I will be somewhat close...or at least closer than a majority of the "experts" to reality!
The Cowboys to me are the most over hyped team in the NFL this season. Everyone expects them to win at least thirteen games and go to the Super Bowl. Being the unpredictable person I am, I gave them their thirteen victories. However, they will choke in the playoffs once again and Wade Phillips will be shown the door by Jerry Jones in February of 2009.
The Cowboys will start out strong, continue to be strong, and finish the season strong. The jinx will not be broken and the 'Boys will be one and done in January.
The Giants are one of the most disrespected teams in the league. They win the Super Bowl beating the odds, then come into 2008 playing second fiddle to the Dallas Cowboys. Unlike most of the "experts", I am a believer in Eli Manning. His stats might wimpy compared to his brother and he may not be as talented physically as his brother either, but the dude wins football games. The reason why I am such a believer in Eli is because his career thus far has almost mirrored John Elway's, with the biggest difference being Eli won his first Super Bowl in this 4th season.
Eli Manning will continue to defy his detractors and after a slow start to begin the season, he gets hot and leads the Giants into the playoffs where they will do some major damage before getting knocked out.
The Eagles are a tough team to figure out, which I attribute to the quality of coaching more than anything else. This team's fortunes will rise and fall with Donovan McNabb, but I think Andy Reid keeps this football team above .500 and part of me feels I was too pessimistic with this football team. They should over achieve and possibly sneak into the playoffs.
As it stands, I have them starting out really strong due to an easier schedule, but they fade hard down the stretch as the schedule strengthens to finish 9-7.
The Redskins have the unpleasant distinction of being the worst team in the leagues best division. This is not to say they are even in the bottom half of the entire league. I think Washington is finally making the right personnel decisions that should carry them back into contention in the near future. They will also sneak up on more than a few teams this year, but their youth and inexperience will cost them late in the season. Again, their weak schedule early on makes them appear better than they actually are and they fade hard late to finish 8-8.
The Vikings are a good, solid football team. I also think Tarvaris Jackson does not get the credit he deserves. I expect him to be a solid game manager who rarely makes the big mistake. With him under center, the Vikings will get off to a solid start. I will make the wild ass assumption that Adrian Peterson gets a minor injury midway through the season and the Vikings struggle without him, but finish strong.
I see the Vikings doing some damage in the playoffs, perhaps even advancing to the NFC Championship game. Their defense is too good and their running game too dangerous not to be a factor that deep in the playoffs.
In what has become one of the worst divisions in football, the NFC North plunges into the depths of mediocrity when discounting the Vikings. The Bears will be a team known for schizophrenia. The will beat major playoff contenders one week and then lose to the Falcons the next. For those of us who pick winners and losers each week(for money) will no doubt come to loathe the Bears.
I see nothing bright for this team in the near future either, their defense is getting older and they still haven't found a worthy quarterback. Matt Forte may be the answer at running back, but I won't believe all the hype until I see him take an NFL snap, in an NFL game.
If there is one person on Earth I don't want to be this year it would be Aaron Rodgers. He is going to be under fire all season long and he will make plenty of mistakes early in the season, but I think they stick with him and Aaron will finish the season strong enough to get some of the critics off his back. This team decided it wanted to move on without Brett Favre and start the rebuilding process immediately. The result? A 5-11 season one year after an appearance in the NFC Championship game.
The way the "experts" talk about the Lions makes me laugh. This team is nothing more than a Top 10 draft pick team. Mullen has squandered this franchise's future with horrible drafts since he took over, but it seems he will continue to be given a free reign(of terror) of this organization and its fans. I decided to be fun and make the Lions start out strong(just like last year) only to fade into oblivion again, finishing the season losing 11 out of their last 12 games.
Putting the Saints at 12-4 was one of the hardest things I had to do in this post. They have weapons on offense and I am a believer in Drew Brees, but they are going to have to get lucky to win twelve games this year. Even so, I think they fight their way to the division crown and grab that second seed in the playoffs.
This franchise made all the right moves over the past few years to put themselves in position to make a run at a conference championship, albeit a weak conference, but I see this team emerging as one of the dominate teams in the NFC within the next year or two.
The Buccaneers are another interesting team to me as they are quietly flying under the radar. Ever since John Gruden left the Raiders and then proceeded to whoop them in the Super Bowl, I've like him. I think he is an outstanding coach who gets the absolute most out of his men each and every Sunday.
For that reason, I think this team starts out a .500 team and Gruden puts his coaching ability to the task and turns this .500 team into a winner, sneaking into the playoffs. Though I don't think this team has the veteran leadership it needs to go far in the playoffs, I do think it is good enough to get in...barely.
The Panthers are one of those teams all the "experts" used to like to put at the top of their power polls before the season began. This year, not so much. Their offense is in transition as they slowly realize that Delhomme is not the long term answer at quarterback and that they are thin at wide receiver. They made a smart move by drafting Jonathan Stewart in the first round, but now they need to draft a future QB and WR to go along with him. I just don't see anything special happening in 2008 with this ball club.
John Fox is a good coach and their defense is still solid, so that is why I give the Panthers a near .500 record for this season. Though this team might break the 10 win mark since their strength of schedule is so weak, but I still don't think they are a good enough ball club to win that many games.
There is no doubting the Falcons are rebuilding from the monumental loss of a franchise quarterback and an inconsiderate coach, but I think the top brass in this organization are making the right choices to drag this team out of the depths of despair. They will not win many games this year, but with the experience gained by Matt Ryan and the other youngsters, I think the Falcons could break .500 in 2009.
If there ever was a team that was getting more out of less it would have to be the Seattle Seahawks. Mike Holmgren is one of the premier coaches in the league and he will find a way to win this laughingstock of a division. This team will continue their trend of winning and losing close games against the best and worst of teams. Holmgren and the Seahawks almost remind me of dan Reeves and the Broncos of the 1980's, except the Seahawks don't have anything close to an Elway to bail them out. In the end, I see this team winning close to ten games. They may play in a laughingstock of a division, but they also have one hell of a schedule to deal with.
The Rams are not as bad as their record showed last year. They had some bad luck and some key injuries, but the confidence level was completely shattered last season. I don't think this team will even begin to recover until Marc Bulger is replaced as quarterback. They are on the cusp of being a playoff contender, except for that one weak link. He hasn't played consistently since mid-2006 and I just don't see how this somewhat talented team can overcome that in 2008.
They may not win a whole lot of football games this season, but they will show the "experts" that they are more of a threat to Seattle than the Arizona Cardinals.
The Cardinals have so much talent that is just totally wasted by bad coaching. They are almost exactly like the Detroit Lions in that regard. When Ken Whisenhunt benched Matt Leinart, I realized that the Cardinals were not serious about building for the future. They have decided to try and "win now" with a quarterback that has no future with the organization, when they should do what Mike Shanahan did and take a losing season in order to ensure future success.
The Cardinals have once against displayed to me why there are elite organizations in the NFL and doormat organizations. The Cardinals are a doormat and will continue to be so until they learn how to build a Championship program.
I initially had the Niners winning around six games this year, but that was before I took in Mike Nolan's erratic behavior with his quarterback situation. I mean, you invest millions in a #1 overall pick and then give up on him in his third year. You start some unknown who hasn't even taken an NFL snap and put all your eggs in that basket instead. That tells me that Alex Smith will become a solid starter(if picked up by a team who knows how to develop a young QB) for some other team while the 49ers continue to be league pariahs and Mike Nolan is searching for a job. I see nothing happy in the future for this team and I honestly believe I am being too generous with my two win prediction.
Many of you know me well enough to know that I am not real big on the Patriots. I can even be quoted as saying they wouldn't win six games this year and as absurd as that sounds, I can't help but shake this feeling that the Patriots are a dynasty in decline.
However, after looking at their cake schedule, I just don't see them losing more than four games this season. After going a (nearly) perfect 18-1 last season, they get to follow it up by facing the weakest division in the AFC and the weakest division in the NFC, while also facing the AFC West which isn't all that strong either. The result will no doubt be another division title and a playoff run.
I am torn with this pick because I believe my judgment may be clouded somewhat by the bias I have against Brett Favre. I hope against hope that Favre will break his interception record and lead the Jets to a 3-13 record before finally hanging up the cleats. The reality is, even a bad Favre is better than a good Pennington. The Jets have the talent to be a playoff team, but they lack the confidence necessary to get over the hump. I blame part of that on poor coaching.
I predict the Jets will lose a few key games that will cost them a chance to get into the playoffs. After Favre retires, the Jets descend back into the hole they came from.
From my perspective, the most interesting team in the AFC East is the Buffalo Bills. They have a no nonsense coach in Dick Jauron and they are building a talent laden team on both sides of the ball. The problem is, consistency. Especially at the quarterback position. This team is dangerous enough to get to the playoffs, but I think consistency issues will plague them all season long causing them to finish 8-8.
My thinking is that after this season, the Bills will finally address their quarterback issues and I would expect to see this team finally get over the hump and into the playoffs in 2009.
The Dolphins are still rebuilding and Bill Parcels still has much work to do to get this team out of the gutter. I am not a huge believer in Ricky Williams or any other player on offense. I still can't understand why Ronnie Brown isn't the starter, the dude had 800 yards rushing in the first seven games last season before going down with an injury.
All in all, it's going to be a rough year for Miami and they'll be lucky to get the four wins I've given them here.
The Steelers are one of my sleeper teams for 2008. They have a championship calibur defense and a potent offense. The only major weakness I can find is inexperience at the coaching level. The jury is still out on Tomlin, at least until he can prove he can lead a team deep into the playoffs.
I see the Steelers roughing up several quality playoff teams on their way to a solid 11-5 record. This team could win more games, but their schedule for this season is quite brutal and their eleven wins would be more impressive to me than the thirteen I gave to the Patriots.
The Browns are the leagues biggest pretenders, rivaled only by the Detroit Lions. On top of that, they have been plagued in the preseason by the injury bug. I think this team struggles to duplicate their ten win season of 2007 and will finish just outside the playoff race.
I am also not high on Derek Anderson and he smells too much like a one year wonder for me to have any faith in him going into this season. However, this team does have some weapons on offense and anything short of a .500 season is unlikely. The injuries will slow this team down early on, but look for them to come on strong late in the year.
In short, the Bengals are a disaster. It's really not the fault of the players, nor is it really indicative of the coaches. I place blame squarely on the shoulders of the horrible owners of the Bengals. They have run that franchise into the ground for the past two decades and no amount of talent is going to lift them out of the gutter.
Look for them to start out terrible, finishing close to .500. The schedule isn't doing this team any favors either, but seven wins is likely within reach for this talented yet troubled football team.
If the Bengals are a disaster, then the Ravens must be a biblical catastrophe. With so much upheaval in the front office this offseason, the Ravens have the disadvantage of trying to win football games while learning all new everything. Their offense is still the woefully inpet beast it's been for the last ten years, with their only threat coming from Willis McGee. This teams only saving grace is their veteran defense; though they are getting old. If they win more than two games this season, it will be the result of inspired defensive play combined with rare offensive output.
The Jacksonville Jaguars are the most complete team in the AFC. They don't have the sexy offensive weapons of the Patriots, Chargers, or Colts, but they have a power run game and a quarterback that knows how to manage a football game. Their defense could emerge as one of the top three defenses in the leagues. For these reasons, I pick the Jacksonville Jaguars to win it all this year. Which pains me to say, since I still loathe the Jags for what they did to our Broncos in the 1996 playoffs.
I think this team does no worse than 13-3 and though I have them losing on opening day, I still see them going on to win fourteen out of the last fifteen games to grab homefield advantage for the playoffs. Surprisingly, they are flying under the radar because of the infatuation the media has with the Patriots and Colts, so look for them to "come out of nowhere" when you are listening to the pundits.
Some think the Colts are on the decline, but I just don't see that. Peyton Manning is still one of the best quarterbacks ever to take the field and possibly the most intelligent as well. He has weapons in Joseph Addai and Reggie Wayne. Marvin Harrison may or may not come back to full strength. My main problem with this team is that Manning is coming off of major surgery and I just don't think he will be 100% for at least another month.
The Colts start slow, but finish with a solid 11-5 record and a playoff appearance. However, I think they benefit from an easy schedule and this team will be much weaker than in previous seasons. The Colts aren't dead yet and they will be dominate for several more years before they begin to crumble.
Why do I like the Texans? Oh yea, I love Kubiak, that's why! It's a man crush that comes from winning two Super Bowls and being best buddies with my childhood hero(John Elway). To top that off, the guy knows how to build a team. The Texans have gone from sub par to above average in just two seasons with Kubiak at the helm.
If the Texans were in a different division, they'd make the playoffs. At this point though, they are likely to finish just shy of a playoff berth. The Texans play the Colts tough, so if they can find a way to split the series with them and with the Jaguars, then this team could sneak into the playoffs ahead of the Colts. I know I'll be rooting for them to succeed for I have no love for the Jags or the Colts!
My Jay Cutler bias shows up in my analysis of the Titans, but I just can't help it. I am not a believer in Vince Young. Jeff Fisher is one hell of a coach, but he is going to have his work cut out of him this season and I just don't see them winning alot of football games. I'll be shocked if this team breaks .500.
I tried really hard to give this team thirteen victories, but I just had to have us get "favre'd" this year. This team has plenty of holes on defense and the only way this team wins twelve games this year is if the offense puts up a ton of points. Which I think will happen. I heard on the radio yesterday on a local station that covers Bay Area sports and the morons on the show stated that the Raiders wouldn't win more than seven games this year, but that should be good enough for second place in this division. I think they are class A morons.
The Denver Broncos are a young and inexperienced football team, but they have a quarterback that leads like a seasoned veteran not like the 24 year old kid he is. With Mike Shanahan turning the offense loose for the first time in a decade, this team is going to surprise alot of the experts this year and will take this division back from the Chargers.
I see the Broncos starting out fast and they will get on a roll until late in the season where they get "favre'd", then the Bills get a little revenge for what happened last year, and finally the Chargers split the series with us to end the season. Unfortunately, since I am a believer in 2008 being the equivalent to 1996, this team will be one and done in the playoffs.
The window of opportunity is rapidly closing on this team. Phillip Rivers is only as good as the players around him and the talent is slowly drying up. This is still a ten win team, so long as LDT stays healthy and dominate. However, they just never grew up. The Chargers never became a professional winner. They used their talent to win games, but never developed the level of professionalism necessary for a Championship run.
I think Norv Turner takes over this season and does everything possible to keep the Chargers out of contention. They will still make the playoffs, but they will suffer the consequences of having an arrogant GM fire a world class coach for petty reasons. This petty team will continue to be a fixture early in the playoffs, but no farther.
I initially had the Oakland Raiders pulling themselves out of the gutter and breaking .500 this year, however, after seeing that they have no passing attack I have decided to rethink my position. Crazy Al likes the sexy draft pick and rather than building his team from the ground up, he keeps drafting the sexy pick. This team will not lift themselves out of the gutter any time soon and after Crazy Al fires Kiffin this year, they will fall even further back into the depths of despair.
In about five or six more years, the Broncos will finally be able to put the 1960's behind them as they will once again break even all-time against the Oakland Raiders. I look forward to that day and also to the continued mediocrity of the hated Raiders.
Though I think the Chiefs are one of the top three NFL pariahs this year, I truly believe they have taken all the right steps to return to contention fairly quickly. Chiefs top brass recognized the need to start from scratch and are willing to bite the bullet short term in order to be successful long term. That alone sets them apart from teams like the Raiders, Cardinals, Lions, or 49ers and it will ensure that us Bronco fans will need to start worrying about the Chiefs by 2010.
There you have it. My rather lengthy prediction for the 2008 NFL Season. I am going to go out on the limb and predict that the Jacksonville Jaguars will defeat the Minnesota Vikings in the Super Bowl. Yes, Minnesota will become the worst Super Bowl team ever this year. 0-5. I feel sorry for them, I really do. HA!