Thursday, September 08, 2005

OT: 2005 NFL Predictions

I realize this is a hockey blog, but with the puck world relatively slow right now, I figured it appropriate, for one day at least, to deviate from the formula.

The NFL season starts tonight with a game between the New England Patriots and the Oakland Raiders, and as such, I present my sure-to-be-100%-accurate NFL predictions. Feel free to use these as you gamble your life savings and become millionaires courtesy of your local bookie.

NFC

East
1. Philadelphia Eagles
2. Dallas Cowboys
3. Washington Redskins
4. New York Giants

Yes, I'm being predictable. The Eagles are the class of the NFC East. Have been for years, and I see no reason why this season will be any different, even with the ongoing Terrell Owens soap opera. Their defence is too strong and I'm convinced Coach Reid is a genius. The Cowboys will be better, and I love a lot of their off season moves to improve their D. As a Bills fan, I know first hand what Drew Bledsoe is capable of, both good and bad, but I think unlike Buffalo, they have more to work with. The Redskins' offense was terrible last season, and I see no reason why it will be any better this year. They have no top QB and no true #1 receiver (Moss for Coles is not an upgrade), meaning opposing defense can pretty well assume the ball is gonna end up in Clinton Portis' hands. Their defense will have to be excellent for them to even stay in most games, but on paper, I think they're up to that task. That said, it's very possible they could be the basement dwellers of the division. It really could go either way. The Giants are not a good team. I like their acquistions as far as Burress and Antonio Pierce, but I'm still not convinced Eli Manning is ready, and that line won't may it any easier on him.

Central
1.
Minnesota Vikings
2. Detroit Lions
3. Green Bay Packers
4. Chicago Bears

Now that Randy Moss is gone, it is truly Daunte Culpepper's team, and that's a positive. It's do or die for Matt Millen in Motown, but I like their chances. They have, hands down, the best young receiving core in the league, giving Joey Harrington a lot to work with. I would've been more high on them had Jeff Garcia not broke his leg, but regardless, they're still a real good team on paper. It's about over for Brett Favre in Green Bay, and this year may be their last kick at the can, but I don't see them having enough for him to take them to the promised land one more time. Unfortunately for Favre, there seems to be an especially huge hole on the o-line, which almost ensures he's going to be banged up all season. As for the Bears, what needs to be said? I wouldn't expect them to win more than 4 games with that quarterback.

South
1. Carolina Panthers
2. Atlanta Falcons
3. New Orleans Saints
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Top to bottom, the best division in the NFC. No team will be dominant, but all could make the playoffs if things go right. I'm going with the Panthers, maybe because I remember all too well how excellent they were down the stretch last season, but if they stay healthy (a big if, I know), I see no reason why they won't win the division, as they're well situated at basically every important position on both sides of the ball. The Falcons have the most exciting player in the league, but fuck me if I can understand the decision to cut lose Peerless Price. Would it not have made more sense to add someone to compliment him rather than release their best passing option? New Orleans will be a sentimental favorite for obvious reasons, as I know I'll be rooting for them, regardless of where they play their home games. Unfortunately, they did little to upgrade their team from last year, and they weren't good enough then to cut it. Tampa Bay is so far removed from the team that won the Super Bowl it's scary, and if this is what the new NFL will look like, with a championship team being dismantled in three years, then count me out. This is the same Brian Griese that's been a bust everywhere else, so why it would it be any different here and their defense that has too many holes. I like their receiving core, but the guy that's getting them the ball stinks, so really, it doesn't matter.
West
1. St. Louis Rams
2. Seattle Seahawks
3. Arizona Cardinals
4. San Francisco 49ers

St. Louis still has way too many weapons on offense, even if half of them are on their last legs as far as being impact players. And their schedule looks very easy on paper. Seattle has a solid offense, but their D, and especially that secondary, has been an issue for too long, and I didn't see any significant attempt to address it for this season. Ray Rhodes won't help. They should be a fun team to watch though. The Cardinals, like the 'Skins, could go either way, and I wouldn't be outright shocked if they even won the division. I'm so wishy washy on Kurt Warner it's not funny, as on the one hand I think he has a lot to prove and will be very motivated, while also thinking he has no gas left in the tank. The fact they will have a rookie as running back doesn't bode well, but their D is strong enough to make them competitive most nights. The Niners will suck badly, regardless of who they have at QB. Tim Rattay or Alex Smith doesn't make a difference, as they're too weak everywhere else. Are the football gods paying back 49ers fans for all the years they had of winning?

AFC

East
1. New England Patriots
2. New York Jets
3. Buffalo Bills
4. Miami Dolphins

Duh. Is anyone not picking the Pats to win the division yet again? Losing Ted Bruschi and their genius defensive co-ordinator will hurt big time, but they're still excellent everywhere else, and will make up for it. The Jets will be better, I think, than most other people seem to, as I have them winning 10 games, and maybe even 11 or 12. Curtis Martin is about as reliable as they come. Chad Pennington is somewhat of a question mark with him coming off major surgery, but the kid has balls the size of grapefruits and I see him bouncing back big time. Their D is solid as well. As is the Bills', but J.P. Losman as QB gives me nightmares as a fan of the team. McGeyhee has to have a monster year for them to even contend for a playoff spot. Gus Ferrotte is the Dolphins starting QB. Need I say more?

North
1. Cincinnati Bengals
2. Pittsburgh Steelers
3. Baltimore Ravens
4.

I guess this is where people will think I'm nuts. What can I say, I'm a huge fan of Carson Palmer, and think he'll have a MVP type season. Stop laughing at me! The Steelers are consistent, and will be in the playoffs as well. We'll see if Ben Roethlisberger was a fluke or the real deal this season, and I'm betting that it's somewhere in between. The Ravens will also be in the playoffs with that defense. Still not sure about Kyle Boller but I don't think he's bad enough that he'll lose games for them. Any of the top three could win the division and I wouldn't be the least bit surprised. Can't say the same for the Browns though. Trent Dilfer is not a good look.

South
1. Indianapolis Colts
2. Houston Texans
3. Jacksonville Jaguars
4. Tennessee Titans

The Colts are a gimme with all of those players on offense. They got about five Pro Bowlers. Their defense seems suspect to me, but that just means you can go with the over on almost any Indy game. The Texans are an enigma, as I like David Carr and Domanick Davis quite a bit, but their defense doesn't exactly comfort me, as there are a lot of holes ( I like Phillip Buchanan coming in though). The Jags have an awful schedule, with six of their first seven games against playoff calibre teams, and I think this will put them so behind the ball they can't come back. Byron Leftwich still hasn't proven himself to an elite QB to me, and I think this year has to be his make or break as the franchise's go to guy. Fred Taylor will do some damage, when he's not hurt. Much of the Titans success depends on Steve McNair and Travis Henry. McNair's ready to fall apart at the top of a hat, and though he's very talented, putting anything on Henry is a massive mistake. They lost a shitload of players in the offseason as well, and failed to put comparable people in their place.

West
1. Kansas City Chiefs
2. San Diego Chargers
3. Oakland Raiders
4. Denver Broncos

The Chiefs have been an embarassment on D for as long as I can remember now, but I love all the moves they made in the offseason to shore that up, especially in the secondary. Trent Green's effective, Tony Gonzalez is a beast, and if Priest Holmes can stay healthy (again, another major if), they'll be superb. Even if Holmes misses a few games, they'll still be a top team because they have other players who can step in and carry the load. A lot of people seem to be down on the Chargers, as I've seen a whole lot of "6-10", "7-9", predictions, but I like them to make some noise. Not playoff noise, but they'll be in the hunt. Drew Brees isn't Joe Montana, yes, but L.T. is the best running back in the game, and with that o-line, he might just run for 2,000 yards. Randy Moss or not, the Raiders still have Kerry Collins. Sorry Randy, but no, he's not better than Culpepper, no matter how much you try and convince us otherwise. Moss will make them a fun team to follow, both on the field and off, but with that running game, I don't see them being a playoff team. The defense has more holes than swiss cheese. As for Denver, they will continue to run the ball 1,000 times a game, and whoever they do go with in that position will put up big numbers, but they won't win a lot of games.

Playoffs
NFC
Philadelphia
Minnesota
Carolina
St. Louis
Detroit
Seattle

AFC
New England
Cincinnati
Indianapolis
Kansas City
New York Jets
Pittsburgh

Superbowl:
New England over Philadelphia

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