For the sake of arguing and such, I know it’s Week 2. I wrote this just before Week 1, but never got around to posting it.
Len Cosell’s back…not that I really went anywhere. So the lockout’s over (in the NFL) and we’ve got football. A few Week 1 thoughts before I get to the brass tacks which all of you are reading for…my predictions. (Smile.)
A) I remain baffled at how Tony Sparano not only kept his job, but earned a two year extension he might not be around for after the scrimmage that was their Monday Night opener. Oh and cutting the guy who couldn’t keep Wes Welker from going the length of the field…really not doing much when there’s still 10 other guys from that All-Swiss Cheese Defense still around. (Swiss Cheese = Full of Holes)
B) Tom Brady’s sick of hearing about Aaron Rodgers being the best in the league, when he’s still packing more rings than Aaron. (One wedding band to Gisele, three Super Bowl rings.)
C) After Sunday night, I’m moderately more jacked about the Jets.
C2) I’m full blown set on the notion that until the Giants shitcan Coughlin, I’m through with em’. No way should they have let W-rex A Million kill their obsolete secondary with guys who other than perhaps Santana Moss, haven’t been relevant since COLLEGE!!!
D) In spite of what Oakland did to Denver and have continued to do since last year against the AFC West…oh, let me hold this thought.
E) If you’re a Colts fan, PANIC. PANIC NOW. Because short of that defense going absolutely LIGHTS OUT in a biblical sense, the Colts are finished. They will go from double digit wins to double digit LOSSES in a season and honestly, if they’re out of it by the end of next month and Peyton’s ready to come back…he cannot come back. Seriously. Indy’s paying for not taking Peyton’s heir in April’s draft (honestly, they could’ve snatched Mallett and been SET…but New England aka ‘What San Fran Should’ve Been Well Into The 90s But Weren’t’ did) and now, they’re stuck.
So…let’s get on with it shall we? This year, I’m doing a little something different. I’m going with division winners in the order by which I’m certain to that which I’m absolutely uncertain of or just am outright indifferent/apathetic about. AFC West – San Diego SuperChargers. SD will not sputter out of the gates as they have in prior years and be forced to have a ‘SuperCharged’ finish. With virtually nobody looking their way, I really think they’re gonna shock folks. (Pardon the pun.) While I’m still ??? on their RB from Fresno State, Rivers is still Rivers. On top of that, it’d be remiss of me if I didn’t state that if the Bolts DON’T return to the playoffs and make a deep run…Norv’s probably gonna need to turn in that playbook.
NFC North – (Chris Berman tone) The Green Bay PACKERS. They’re the best team in this division and it’s really not even close. Seriously. If you put everyone on an even keel, healthwise and all, they’re the most talented team in the division. There will not be a Super Bowl hangover with this team and unlike the last QB who took the reigns from a Hall of Famer, he’s not gonna be a one and doner. With Grant and Finley back, this offense will be absolutely hellacious. Their defense remains intact for the most part and just looking at this division as a whole (Chicago’s gonna take a huge step back, Minnesota’s gonna go as Donovan does and too many folks are high on Detroit for me to say they’ll live up to it), I just cannot see them falling off that steep. They want it. Aaron wants it to put the naysayers to bed and live up to the hype he’s been getting since last February.
NFC East – Dallas. My disdain and hatred of Philly aside, this isn’t as close as most think. Names aside because Philly’s got a lot of em’, Dallas has the better team. In December when seasons are ended and extended, I trust Dallas a helluva lot more than I do Philly for this reason. Dallas has the better offense and on defense as they displayed on Sunday before Romo’s implosions, their defense under Rob Ryan will be hellacious. Vick’s got his $$$, but that offense is a bit overrated in my opinion. I don’t see Desean Jackson as anything more than a slightly more talented version of Devin Hester (as in he’s not a guy I’m throwing to with the game on the line saying ‘take us home’ the way you would an Andre Johnson or Larry Fitzgerald) and Andy Reid tends to faze out his running game when its needed the most.
AFC North – Blitzburgh. In spite of what Baltimore did to them on Sunday, I like Tomlin as a coach. Ben’s probably the quietest multiple time Super Bowl winner I’ve seen in my lifetime and even though there’s a serious flaw that will probably cost them a 7th title this season, I’m not really banking on Baltimore taking the necessary 2nd game from them in order to take this division from them. On top of that, my Sleeper Team from within this division is going to be a serious monkey wrench for the Baltimore Birdies and Blitzburgh will hold on to their division crown…just not much more beyond that.
NFC South – New Orleans. The Saints are one of a handful of teams that wasted a high draft pick on someone and haven’t been totally burned as a result of it. Reggie Bush, as talented as he is, should be so much more than he is right now. But the fact remains, Mark Ingram is the man that will help that offense become more balanced and take a ton of pressure off of Sir Brees and that passing game. Still, I’m rolling with the Nolia because Drew’s legit and I think their Stumble In Starbucks Country a year ago will motivate them in a serious way to get back. (Yes, I think the game 6 nights ago in Lambeau WILL go down one more time in the postseason for the NFC Championship.)
AFC East – New England. I should be taking the Jets, because they’ve been one of the only teams to really stub them during their regular season romps. But in order for the Jets to WIN this division, two things have to happen. They have to not falter to Miami and Buffalo for starters. Then, they have to SWEEP Thomas F. Brady and that, as hardcore a Jet fan as I am…I can say with a fair amount of certainty isn’t happening. Brady’s in the mode I believe Joe Cool was in when he was shipped off to Kansas City and proceeded to nearly carry them and Martyball to the Super Bowl during his lone two seasons with the Chiefs in the mid 90s (yes, I remember this vividly. I became a hardcore, diehard Montana fan once he stopped wearing SF colors). The Pats will probably win between 12-14 games AGAIN and the Jets will catch em’ slipping ONCE. Sadly for Rex, not many others are going to. But hey Rex, you’ve been Road Warriors for the most part during these playoff runs haven’t yet? Besides, homefield’s way overrated…just ask the Bears last year.
AFC South – I’m not going with Houston here for a few reasons…
A) I don’t think much of Matt Schaub. Good backup plan, not a great primary plan. Not by any stretch of the imagination. With the weapons he has around him, for this team to STILL not be over .500…it’s ridiculous. With Wade running the defense, they’ll be better, but I’m just not buying them this year.
B) Everyone’s picking them. I’ve learned that anytime something seems TOO obvious, it’s most likely NOT going to happen. (See San Fran winning the West last season and being a “sleeper” Super Bowl pick. Yes, even I bit on this.)
So, eliminating them, this comes down to essentially a coin toss between two rather crap teams. One’s got a crap defense and is probably a few games away from starting a rookie at QB. The other, just let its franchise QB walk after “losing” a war with his coach (who ended up being sent packing shortly after) and isn’t overly sexy as a team you’d think will win a division.
That said, I’m going with the Titans. Their offense with C-Ya Later aka Chris Johnson spearheading it is vastly better than Jacksonville’s. I like their defense better than the Jags and honestly, I think too many folks are too quick to write off Hasselbeck. He’s got more weapons at his disposal than he had in Seattle and I think he’ll have a better year this season than last year. Oh and the TItans are ONE of my AFC Sleeper Squads. (The other will SHOCK ya. Or not if ya read my status messages on Facebook.)
NFC West – If there’s been a worst division in football history, I’ve never seen it. EVER. I can recall a time when the NFC West was ferocious with the Saints, Niners, Falcons & Rams going at each other at odd times during the 80s and 90s. Now…it’s the epitomy of mediocrity. Its best team coming in took a few steps back losing its starting QB and replacing him with a guy who couldn’t convince his old one that he was the guy. (Now you know why college coaches aren’t exactly as hot a commodity as you’d think within the NFL.) Even with Sidney Rice…I’m not buying the Seahawks. Arizona’s reeling ever since it couldn’t hold off the Steelers in the Super Bowl and to this day, I remain baffled why they not only haven’t addressed their defense, but weakened it even further by giving away their best corner (D-Cro) to Philly for yet another QB that couldn’t convince his former team that he was the guy even after they sent their franchise guy to a division rival and signed some guy fresh out of prison to be the backup. Even with Fitzy to throw to, they can’t run and as $cam Newton illustrated a few days ago…they can’t stop ANYONE. The Lambs are everyone’s chalk pick, but now you’ve got guys getting dinged and nicked up beyond all recognition, including Sam Bradford.
All that said, I look at this division and I see nothing. A LOT of nothing. I attribute Seattle beating the Saints last year more to Madden Mojo (Brees was the cover guy) than anything else. League rules dicates however that one of these four atrocious teams will get a playoff bid. So to put me up against it…I’m going with…San Fran. Harbaugh revives Alex’s career in a way in which he’s set Andrew Luck up to get a MAJOR payday next April.
L’s AFC Wild Card Teams & Sleeper Teams- Jets & Browns.
The Jets go without saying, aside from having the talent and drive to take that “next step”. Cleveland, well…it’s interesting. For one, nobody’s really expecting them to be anything more than the best team in Ohio. (Which they are, Sunday’s result against the Bengals aside.) But their schedule is probably the most favorable in the NFL and if they can lose no more than TWICE going forward until December…they’re gonna make the playoffs. They’ll feasibly split with the Ravens and Steelers respectively, but so long as they have 3 losses at the end of December, they’ll be in great shape. Colt’s their guy and so long as Peyton doesn’t fall victim to Madden Mojo…their offense should be good. Defensively, I believe their early part of their schedule will build up the swagger needed to make a playoff push and yeah, Len Cosell thinks they’re gonna do it. 10 wins. First Wild Card game in 9 years. (See, Len does NOT hate all Cleveland teams.)
AFC Championship – Jets & Bolts. (Consider this the ‘It’s High Time We Get Two Teams In Here Besides The Colts, Pats & Steelers…Not To Mention The Ravens’ title pick.)
L’s NFC Wild Card Teams & Sleeper Teams – Eagles & Vikings.
Philly’s not beating out Dallas for the NFC East. Not so sad to say. However, the Vikes are my sleeper team because everyone’s looking at Detroit and well, that kinda takes the luster off of being a “sleeper” if everyone’s “awake” on your prospects to do good. The Vikes are a bit of a perfect storm to a point, because their QB’s looking to redeem himself and the head coach has to prove that he is indeed the right guy for the job. I’ve been something of a Donovan sympathizer over the years and Scrapahan royally screwed him over last year. Donovan’s got A-Pete, easily the best RB he’s worked with in his career and a bonafide burner in Percy Harvin at his disposal. I believe his desire to stick it to not only Washington, but Philly who thought he had nothing left will fuel him to have a bounce back season.
NFC Championship – Saints/Pack Redux (Simply put, these are the two best teams in the conference.)
L’s Super Bowl Picks – Even though my good friend’s a Bolts fan, I’m not going against my squad twice in one column. Sowwies. The Jets will take that next step. They’ll end Ben’s season in Blitzburgh and then head on over to California to short circuit Phillip’s season. (Something they’ve done quite a bit since Rivers took over as their QB in the postseason.) On the NFC side, I believe this is going to be a new age Cowboys/Niners thing with the Pack and Saints going forward. I’m gonna say it before the talking heads do so. Rodgers/Brees will be what Aikman/Montana SHOULD HAVE BEEN…but never was. I believe that the second time around, it will be on the Frozen Tundra and the next time around…it’ll be the Saints. Mark Ingram will validate and justify why NO took him late in the 1st round this April. Ingram runs them back to the Super Bowl and now…
It gets interesting. I’ll rationalize this one by thinking back to Giants/Bills in Super Bowl XXV. High octane offense against a bonecrushing defense. Rex on Media Day will be outrageous, Bart Scott’s gonna make us laugh. The Jets will be outlandish and outrageous, the Saints will be humble and businesslike. Saints will be favored, Jets will be motivated. Jets will use their running game and short passing game to control the game, but most of all, to keep Drew a spectator. With Revis Island being a No Pass Zone, Drew’s forced to look the other way and well long story short…the Jets erase the memory of Super Bowl III with a win in Indianapolis. Mark Sanchez sparks the ‘which NY QB is better, Eli or Mark?’ debate and Rex becomes the first Ryan in his family tree to win a title as a Head Coach. (Buddy got his as a coordinator, Rex and Rob both have won em’ as coordinators.)