Sunday, September 08, 2013

Predicting The 2013 NFL Season, Now Concussion-Free!

From what I can tell, the picks for winning the Super Bowl by National Football League writers boil down to this group: Denver, Seattle, Green Bay, San Francisco, and Atlanta.  Two big teams you don’t see in that list: defending champs Baltimore and New England.

I can cosign that.

I don’t know if any pre-season picks had the Baltimore Ravens beating the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII.  There’s a lot of danger in going with the general consensus; after all, this is a league where a team that finished last in its division the year before wound up winning it the next each of the last ten years.  I doubt we’re going to see a St. Louis Rams-Jacksonville Jaguars Super Bowl this February in the Meadowlands, but it’s the nature of the NFL – good for some, too random for others – that a matchup of former bottom-dwellers is a tad more possible in football than it is in, say, the NBA.

So who do I think will win?  Under the premise that trying to do in-depth research is futile, I’m going to break down each team’s chances.  Let’s go!

NFC East

People finally think that Tony Romo will have a breakout season, with the help of Dez Bryant having an announcement year.  And I’m thinking, “But this is Tony Romo,” and his time as Dallas Cowboys quarterback (and Jason Garrett’s time as head coach) might be at an end with another failure to win the division, probably at its most vulnerable in years. …  And no, I don’t think Washington repeats as division champs.  Robert Griffin III will have a hard sophomore slump this year, and I don’t see the defense compensating for the one step back RGIII will take. …  Philadelphia might be the grandest experiment in the NFL.  Hopefully Chip Kelly will fully commit to the read-option offense; I want to see how it works, or doesn’t work.  But even he will concede that the Eagles are going nowhere.  Whether Michael Vick will go anywhere after this year, well, that’s another story. …  So it looks like it’s going to be the New York Giants getting back to the playoffs, mostly by default.  I’m not as high on the revamped defense as I once was, but I think Eli Manning will have a sensational year.

New York Giants: 10-6

Dallas: 9-7

Washington: 6-10

Philadelphia: 5-11

NFC North

No one thinks the Vikings will make the playoffs.  Just like none of them predicted they would make it last year.  But they won four in a row, all of them very difficult games, mostly due to Adrian Peterson’s historic year, where he was nine yards short of breaking Eric Dickerson’s record for most rushing yards in a season.  Knowing that … yeah, I agree that Minnesota won’t make the playoffs this year.  Peterson cannot duplicate what he did last year – can he? – and the jury is still out if Christian Ponder can handle more of the offense. …  Are you shocked that the Detroit Lions are the oldest team in the league?  Calving Johnson and Matthew Stafford don’t look that old.  This team should be younger and more dynamic than most people think.  But someone has to finish last. …  If Marc Trestman can implement his offensive genius and turn Jay Cutler’s frown upside-down, the Bears might, might, be the surprise team in the league.  I’ll just bet against Chicago because I’m starting to think Cutler’s a dick. …  That leaves the Green Bay Packers, who I believe will fortify its defense after getting run over and through by Colin Kaepernick in the playoffs.

Green Bay: 13-3

Chicago: 9-7

Minnesota: 8-8

Detroit: 7-9

NFC South

The most competitive division in the NFC, possibly the NFL.  The Falcons and the Saints will have sterling passing years … and they’ll need it because the defenses won’t be that good.  The return of Sean Payton and the revamping of their history-worst D (safety Kenny Vaccaro could be win Defensive Rookie of the Year, plus general turnover, convinces me to put New Orleans on top. …  By the way, Julio Jones should have a better season than Calvin Johnson. …  The question for the Carolina Panthers is if they can overcome the slow starts that have kneecapped the last two seasons.  I say that they’ll fall short of making the playoffs, but Cam Newton, named a captain for the first time this season, will lead the team to enough improvement that Ron Rivera stays as head coach. …  And don’t forget the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who surprised everyone (including me) with a seven-win season.  I don’t know if Greg Schiano can make the leap from college to the pros, but if Darrell Revis catches lightning in a bottle and takes back his title of Best Cornerback in the League, Tampa Bay won’t be the team that gets shuffled to the bottom of the NFC South.

New Orleans: 11-5

Atlanta: 11-5 (Wild Card)

Carolina: 9-7

Tampa Bay: 7-9

NFC West

Remember 2010, when the Seattle Seahawks became the first team in NFL history to win a division with a losing record?  Well, look at them now, look at them now.  Well, look at one half of the team: The 49ers regress to a still-great mean, while Seattle will ride a tough defense to the best record in the league.  I look forward to Seattle and San Francisco to be the next great rivalry in the NFL (their first meeting is Week 2, aka next week). …  By the way, while both Kaepernick and Russell Wilson had great breakout rookie years, both will face some adversity this year.  Both teams will reach the top of the conference because of fantastic defenses. …  As for the other half of the division – well, St. Louis should be better than last year.  Sam Bradford will reassert himself as a good starting quarterback in the NFL, and Daryl Richardson will reach at least 1,000 yards replacing Steven Jackson as the team’s primary running back. …  Ken Whisenhunt should not have been fired.  Sure, he got to the Super Bowl because of Kurt Warner.  But the Cardinals’ inability to find even a decent successor just reaffirms the penury of owner Bill Bidwill.  I love Carson Palmer for helping lead the modern resurgence at USC, but I don’t know how much he has left in his arm.  Worst record in the NFC.

Seattle: 14-2

San Francisco: 13-3 (Wild Card)

St. Louis: 5-11

Arizona: 1-15

AFC East

Is this the year the New England Patriots suddenly become mortal?  There are several writers prognosticating that the Pats won’t even make the playoffs.  Me, I’ll believe it when I see it. …  I do believe, however, that the team pushing them in the division is the Miami Dolphins, who finally have a decent QB in Ryan Tannehill and a vastly improving offense. …  I don’t think the E.J. Manuel is the answer because he’s starting for the Buffalo Bills and the Buffalo Bills are a cursed team. …  Oh, to be a fan of the cavalcade of disaster that is the New York Jets – quarterback situation in total disarray, Revis traded to the Bucs, head coach Rex Ryan openly fighting with the media and no answers.  I’m not totally sure that Buffalo won’t be the worst team in the AFC East, but the Jets are the clubhouse leader.

New England: 12-4

Miami: 9-7

Buffalo: 4-12

New York Jets: 3-13

AFC North

I’m surprised that, all things considered, the Pittsburgh Steelers have the worst upside.  Ben Roethlisberger has to be beat up this far into his career, the offensive line has not been upgraded enough, and their big acquisition, Jarvis Jones, has a history of injury – as do many of the Steelers.  Can this proud franchise actually finish last?  Yes, I’m afraid. …  On the flip side, could the Cincinnati Bengals finish first?  Yes!  They found a game manager in Andy Dalton, a workmanlike receiver in A.J. Green, and a suffocating defense.  Now, can they win a playoff game? …  The defending champion Baltimore Ravens have lost eight of their starting 22 players (foremost among them Ray Lewis, who retired a champion in a storybook ending to a splendid yet controversial career), and that, along with natural NFL turnover, means they won’t repeat as champs.  How will the defense fare, and can Joe Flacco repeat his postseason run over the course of a 16-game regular season?  The top of the AFC is so good, the Ravens may not even make the playoffs. …  And I can’t believe I’m saying this, but the Cleveland Browns might be a team to watch.  The key will be new offensive coordinator Norv Turner, who finally experienced the Peter Principle and is now in the perfect spot for his abilities.  Look for Trent Richardson to have a great year and Brandon Weeden to have a, well, better-than-good year.

Cincinnati: 11-5

Baltimore: 10-6

Cleveland: 6-10

Pittsburgh: 4-12

AFC South

Probably the most uncompetitive division in the NFL.  I guess we’re all just assuming the Houston Texans will take this running away, and I don’t blame them. …  But a lot of people are down on the Indianapolis Colts, and I don’t exactly know why.  Andrew Luck was as good as advertised last year, and there’s no reason to think that he won’t learn from his mistakes and prove that he “gets it” in his second year just like his predecessor as Colts signal-caller, Peyton Manning, did.  Why can’t this team be in the playoffs? …  The other two teams cannot be in the playoffs.  The Tennessee Titans might be the most adrift franchise in the league now.  Chris Johnson probably won’t reach his lofty 2,000-yards-rushing heights, and they have Jake Locker under center to prove one (final?) time that he can competently run an offense.  Does Mike Munchak get to coach another year? …  Finally, I feel bad for the Jacksonville Jaguars, probably the franchise with the smallest fanbase in a league that demands it more than any other.  All they have is Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne as their quarterbacks – shrug – and Maurice Jones-Drew coming back from an injury-plagued season.  The good news: The 2014 NFL Draft cannot be as bad as this year’s was.

Houston: 13-3

Indianapolis: 11-5 (Wild Card)

Tennessee: 5-11

Jacksonville: 1-15

AFC West

In each of the past ten years, a team that finished last in their division one year has won it the next.  I’ll go out on a limb and say that two teams do it in 2013 – the Saints and the Kansas City Chiefs.  Andy Reid provides instant credibility to this team (he’ll win Coach of the Year running away), and Alex Smith, cast away after finally proving he has the chops to stick in the NFL, will turn this offense around 180 degrees. …  I see that Peyton Manning dropped seven touchdown passes on the Ravens in the season opener.  He’s not the problem: The losses of Elvis Dumervil and Von Miller will doom Denver (and Manning) of another season short of the title – though I will say they make the playoffs. …  Is it time for the Philip Rivers Era in San Diego to end?  I just don’t know where this franchise goes from here now that Mike McCoy is the new coach. …  No, the Oakland Raiders will not wind up with the worst record in the league, although they certainly could use Jadeveon Clowney.  With no one besides Darren McFadden and Terrelle Pryor (funny seeing you still in the league), they somehow still will win more than the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Kansas City: 11-5

Denver: 10-6 (Wild Card)

San Diego: 6-10

Oakland: 2-14

(By the way, I don’t give a damn that the total wins and losses don’t equal.  I find the obsession over calling people out over that to be laughable.  I.  Don’t.  Care.)

NFC Wild Card: New Orleans over Atlanta; San Francisco over New York Giants

NFC Divisional: Seattle over San Francisco; Green Bay over New Orleans

NFC Championship: Green Bay over Seattle

AFC Wild Card: Cincinnati over Denver; Indianapolis over Kansas City

AFC Divisional: Houston over Indianapolis; New England over Cincinnati

AFC Championship: Houston over New England

And in a Super Bowl XLVIII, which, if there is a God, will be played in the Meadowlands under a blizzard, swirling winds and temperatures that Sunday feel like it’s in the teens, the Green Bay Packers will send the entire league back to its essence – hard, dirty, and with a lot concussions no one talks about.

Super Bowl XLVIII: Green Bay over Houston

Posted by WilliamSou at 9:49 AM


denjean said: SportsBLOG comment spacer

Don't have it yet

tjohnson07010 said: SportsBLOG comment spacer

Your crazy colin kaepernick will run all over russel wilson this year and they will be number 1 in their division

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