By BRAD DEGNAN
Well kids, we’ve finally made it. The draft has passed, OTA’s and mini camps are done and even that silly pre season is finally over. Now we have real football to occupy our time until February. No games have yet been played and everyone has a clean slate and Super Bowl aspirations. Some fans have legitimate hopes while others simply have false hope. Let’s try to dredge through the muck that is each division and see who really has a legitimate shot at winning the Lombardi Trophy.
I have the Cowboys winning the East again. There has been a decline in this division and the Cowboys have the most talent. Washington is in a perpetual rebuilding year and Philadelphia is putting a lot of trust in a guy with no experience. New York has a good team, but I don’t see them contending for the East or a Wildcard, the NFC is too deep. So the Cowboys win the division their coach however, will prevent them from making the Super Bowl. This fact should scare the hell out of Wade Phillips because the Super Bowl is being played at Jerry World this year and you know he wants nothing more than to pad his already enormous ego with his team playing host in the Super Bowl. This is how the season plays out for Dallas: They roll off 10 to 12 wins and lose before the NFC Championship game in the playoffs, Wade Phillips never coaches again and Jerry begs Jimmy Johnson to stop playing Survivor and come back and coach for him.
Someone has to win this division right? Well Arizona is going to be much worse than the previous couple of years, St. Louis sucks and if Seattle plays like Carroll manages his roster they too will suck. That leaves San Francisco to win the division and bow out in the first round of the playoffs.
Minnesota were a interception away from the Super Bowl last year and again this year Brad Childress has showed his faith in Tavaris Jackson by begging and pleading the forty-year-old #4 to return. He has returned and the only question I have is how long will that forty-year-old surgically repaired ankle last? Not a whole season is my prediction. There are a lot of offensive concerns here most notably the wide receiver position. Their defense is too good to miss the playoffs so I have them as the first Wildcard. Chicago is stuck in the mud with no identity. I wonder how many picks Cutler will throw this year. Detroit will be better and Stafford will continue to improve, but they are miles away from the playoffs. That leaves Green Bay with North title. Aaron Rodgers has been anointed the next coming of [any great quarterback]. He’s got a lot of weapons to play with and he plays at Lambeau Field. The holes in the defense are going to prevent this team from going to the Super Bowl.
The Saints have too much talent not to win the division, so they will, even if Reggie Bush didn’t win the Heisman. Carolina is another team that is looking for an identity. DeAngelo Williams is a nice running back and they have “Crazy” Steve Smith who is tremendous, their problem though could be the guy leading the team. Matt Moore, the pride of Van Nuys, CA has attempted just 249 passes. Tampa might rattle off four wins this year, which will be one more than last year. My remaining Wildcard winner in the NFC is Atlanta. Matt Ryan is going to be a great quarterback in this league for many years to come and you need a great quarterback to be successful. Again, defensive concerns will prevent them from going far.
New England wins the division because that’s what Hoodie does. If Brady can stay on his feet they can go deep in the playoffs. Buffalo is a joke and just might be the best team in the CFL. Miami is still recovering from the Dave Wannstache and Nick Saban era, but are likely the third best team in the division. New York overachieved last year and this year they will be exposed. They have a great defense, but their offensive woes will be their down fall. Not to mention the “Hard Knocks Jinx”.
What a pathetic division. I can’t wait to see those Oakland v. Kansas City clashes. Denver has a little kid coaching them so they won’t be relevant, although they do have the savior Friar Tuck. So San Diego will again roll through the regular season, win the division and fizzle out somewhere in the playoffs.
This might be the best division in football, if they could only find a way to get rid of the Browns there would be no argument. Cincinnati swept the division last year and then took a crap. That’s not going to happen this time around. Baltimore will win the division and go very far in the playoffs. Joe Flacco is going to look very good. He has the deepest receiving core in the league now with addition of TJ Houshmandzadeh. How are they the only team to get this guy, and for cheap, 800 grand. So I’ll give the first Wildcard to Cincinnati and their wacky receivers. The Steelers won’t fool anyone anymore and without Big Ben for four games (as I predicted) they will fall behind early and never recover.
This is an interesting division. Some teams have made strides at catching Indianapolis, but they are clearly the division winners again this year. Tennessee is on the cusp of becoming a good team, they’re going to overuse Chris Johnson though and he will breakdown leaving them out of the playoffs. Does Jacksonville still have a team? There’s one Wildcard spot left and I have mentioned all but one of the 32 teams. That’s right kids; I have Houston winning the second Wildcard spot. Matt Schaub has the best target in the NFL in Andre Johnson. They were first in overall passing last year and they have a nice little running back in Arian Foster, watch out for this guy. Don’t forget the defense and Mario Williams. The Texans finally reach relevance.
So, who’s my Super Bowl pick? I think picking the Super Bowl before a single game is played is stupid, but they’re making me so here it is: Baltimore v. New Orleans; with Baltimore winning by more than a point.
So long and enjoy the season.