‘Tis the season where pundits, casual fans, fans that think they are more than casual but are casual, and fans that think they are both pundits and more than casual fans but are really just somewhat casual (that’s me) make their National Football League season predictions.
Last year I predicted the Atlanta Falcons over the Baltimore Ravens. As you might recall (I do, because I came so close to looking like I knew what I was talking about), I came five points away from correctly predicting the Super Bowl participants. The San Francisco 49ers knocked off the Falcons 28-24, and the Ravens outlasted the Niners in the Super Bowl.
I was very proud of that prediction.
How will I do this year? Here are my thoughts on the upcoming NFL season with playoff seedings in parentheses:
New England Patriots (2)
New York Jets
Division is weak sauce! I think the Jets actually surprise people by not sucking as badly as everyone thinks they will suck. They will still suck.
AFC East Not-That-Bold Prediction: Geno Smith leads the Jets in rushing.
Cincinnati Bengals (4)
Baltimore Ravens (6)
Cincinnati has the tools on both sides of the ball to win this division. Baltimore lost a chunk of players from last year’s Super Bowl team but added Elvis Dumervil. I have the Ravens as the No. 6 seed, just because there is nobody else in the AFC that tickles my fancy.
AFC North Not-That-Bold Prediction: Cleveland running back Trent Richardson! He’ll finish as the No. 1 or No. 2 back in all of fantasy football and make me regret NOT taking him with the No. 2 pick in my fantasy draft. Just because everyone said Arian Foster! Idiot! I felt like the dude in the NFL fantasy football commercial, “I wanted Trent.”
Houston Texans (3)
Indianapolis Colts (5)
The Texans get Brian Cushing back. Brooks Reed will bounce back. JJ Watt is a beast! Ed Reed adds veteran leadership to the defense. DeAndre Hopkins compliments Andre Johnson, and Ben Tate is a superb backup to Arian Foster. Don’t sleep on the Texans!
AFC South Not-That-Bold-Prediction: Andrew Luck and the Colts won’t win 11 games (mark them down for 10), but they’ll make noise and Mr. Luck will be in the running for some serious MVP consideration.
Denver Broncos (1)
Kansas City Chiefs
San Diego Chargers
Despite the loss of Dumervil to the Ravens, and losing Von Miller for six games, the Broncos are still the team to beat in the division, and likely the conference. Wes Welker improves an already high-octane offense. You all know my love for Peyton Manning, well I’m jumping on the Demaryius Thomas train too! Dude’s going to put up some numbers this year, as is Manning. The Chiefs may slide into spot No. 6, if the Ravens sputter.
AFC West Not-That-Bold-Prediction: Manning will test Brady’s TD record, that is rightfully his!
AFC Wild Card Round:
Houston over Baltimore
Cincinnati over Indianapolis
AFC Divisional Round:
Denver over Cincinnati
Houston over New England
AFC Championship Game:
Houston over Denver – I really, really, really wanted to pick Denver in the Super Bowl, but I’m not feelin’ their defense this year.
Dallas Cowboys (4)
New York Giants
Feel like putting all four teams in a hat and just drawing from that. It’s anyone’s division (like it’s been for the last few years). I want to see Philadelphia do well. I think the Giants can win it. I think the ‘Skins can win it (just feel like we’re ready for Alfred Morris and RGIII), but I’ll take the Cowboys because they HAVE to win it! Plus DeMarcus Ware and the ‘Boys are now representing Nationwide so there!
NFC East Not-That-Bold-Prediction: Michael Vick rushes for more yards than RGIII.
Green Bay Packers (2)
Detroit Lions (6)
The Packers should run away with this division. Eddie Lacy gives them a solid running back. Aaron Rodgers is the (second) best quarterback in the game and has weapons for receivers.
For some reason I’m choosing the Lions – once again – to make the Wild Card. I like what Reggie Bush brings to the table, instead of rushing it he’ll be catching short passes and running fast. The Lions were tackled a ridiculous 23 times within the 5-yard line. Who does that?!
I’m interested in the Bears new offense with Marc Tressman coming from the Canadian Football League. I don’t see how Minnesota replicates last year’s playoff berth. I mean they’re not that good, are they?
NFC North Not-That-Bold-Prediction: Matt Forte leads the NFL in touchdowns.
Atlanta Falcons (1)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
New Orleans Saints
Maybe I’m just on the Falcons bandwagon because I predicted an awesome season last year and they had an awesome season last year. I like the upgrade to Steven Jackson. I like that Tony Gonzalez was convinced to stay an extra year. I like Matt Ryan with a bit more experience (and his receivers Julio Jones and Roddy White). Tampa Bay is still a year away (or not if Josh Freeman doesn’t handle the rock). The Saints have little defense (they set a record for most yards allowed) and the Panthers have no running game outside of their quarterback.
NFC South Not-That-Bold-Prediction: OK … this is the year Matt Ryan wins MVP.
San Francisco 49ers (3)
Seattle Seahawks (5)
St. Louis Rams
Ok, Seahawk fans … the reason I have the Niners winning the division is because their tough games are played at home (Packers, Colts, Texans, Falcons) and the Hawks play the Colts, Texans, Falcons and NY Giants on the road. I think there is a one-win difference between the two of them. I think the road-tested battles will set up the Hawks for a nice playoff run.
NFC West Not-That-Bold-Prediction: The Rams actually challenge Detroit for the sixth seed in the NFC and Arizona’s Carson Palmer throws for a ton of yards…and then his arm falls off.
NFC Wild-Card Round:
San Francisco over Detroit
Seattle over Dallas
NFC Divisional Round:
Seattle over Green Bay
Atlanta over San Francisco
NFC Championship Game:
Seattle over Atlanta
Super Bowl Prediction:
Seattle over Houston
Do I live in the Seattle area aka the Seahawks nest? Absolutely! Do I consider myself a Seahawk homer? On the contrary. I went through my Facebook newsfeed and ignored every person that wrote #GoHawks after the Seahawks first preseason victory. Trust me, that was a ton of people. I would wager that most of those people couldn’t name the three other teams in the Seahawks division. But there’s a buzz here in Seattle about this team, and maybe it’s feeding me too. They have a confidence that channels their head coach, Pete Carroll. A swagger that says, “We can’t be beat!” or maybe it says “U Mad Bro?” either way, the Hawks look tough. They upgraded their defensive line with Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett. They have the best secondary in the game, and they have a calm and collected quarterback in second-year man Russell Wilson.
In 2010, I correctly predicted the Green Bay Packers. In 2011, I predicted the Ravens to win the Super Bowl over the Packers (I was correct a year later). In 2012 it was the Falcons over the Ravens. Maybe I’m just a year off?
Plan B Pick: Broncos over Falcons
Plan C Pick: Niners over Patriots