Another NFL season is upon us, so it’s time to get my predictions out. This has become sort of my “psyching-up routine” (along with my annual “big league” fantasy draft). My picks from last year weren’t too far off for the regular season, although once again I was better on picking the AFC than I was with the NFC, which is weird because I watch far more NFC games. (This could, of course, be taken as yet another example of the theory that the more one thinks one knows about sports, the less one actually knows.)
For playoff teams, in the AFC I got 3 out of 4 of the division winners correct (New England, Indianapolis, and San Diego), and 1 out of the 2 Wild Card teams (Baltimore). 4-for-6 isn’t too shabby.
In the NFC, however, I only picked one division winner correctly (New Orleans), although I had the two NFC East playoff teams (Dallas and Philadelphia) picked, I just had their finishing order reversed. So only 3-for-6 in the NFC.
And of course, both of my Super Bowl teams—Philadelphia and San Diego—lost their first playoff game last year.
Time to see if I can do better. Here are my predictions for final standings and records, with playoff teams and winners in bold as usual.
|Cincinnati 11-5||Tennessee 11-5|
|Baltimore 10-6||Indianapolis 10-6|
|Pittsburgh 9-7||Houston 9-7|
|Cleveland 5-11||Jacksonville 4-12|
|San Diego 10-6||Miami 11-5|
|Denver 9-7||New England 9-7|
|Kansas City 7-9||New York 8-8|
|Oakland 4-12||Buffalo 2-14|
|Green Bay 12-4||New Orleans 13-3|
|Minnesota 9-7||Atlanta 10-6|
|Chicago 6-10||Tampa Bay 9-7|
|Detroit 4-12||Carolina 4-12|
|San Francisco 10-6||Dallas 14-2|
|Seattle 7-9||New York 9-7|
|Arizona 4-12||Philadelphia 7-9|
|Saint Louis 3-13||Washington 6-10|
|Super Bowl XLV
Also as usual, I have a few thoughts to add to the above:
- I think Indianapolis will have a hard time overcoming the Super Bowl losers’ hangover, but they’re one team that should be able to do it.
- While Seattle really has none of the requisite pieces to win more than about 2 games in a season, don’t underestimate the New Coach Factor. They’ll surprise, but only a little.
- The NFC West is really San Francisco’s to lose. This team reminds me a lot of the 2006 Bears: great defense, solid running game, good enough offensive line and receivers to overcome a nobody quarterback. And no other team in the division has any business sporting a winning record by season’s end.
- I think it’s time for Brett Favre to go out with a whimper, and I’m looking forward to seeing it. I’ll give him enough credit to believe that he can will the Vikings into the playoffs, but no further.
- It won’t surprise me if Dallas becomes the first Super Bowl host team to win the Lombardi trophy at home. But it won’t surprise me if they find a way to squander all of their talent, either. Again.
- Coaches potentially on their farewell tours this year: Lovie Smith (Bears), Tom Cable (Raiders), Jack Del Rio (Jaguars), John Fox (Panthers), and maybe Josh McDaniels (Broncos).
- I know it’s blasphemous to pick the Patriots to miss the playoffs, but they are just old at this point, so I figure something’ll happen to ruin their perennial hopes.
- While I think the Saints and Cowboys will dominate the NFC, the AFC seems much more wide-open this year than it has been in recent seasons. Of course, I’m probably wrong on both accounts… as usual.