Sunday night, the New Jersey Football Giants and the Old Browns/New Ravens each lost a slew of players to injury, adding to the ever-growing list of pre-season casualties, leaving many of us wondering, what happens when a franchise player gets injured during these meaningless exhibitions. I’ll tell you what happens; the team is screwed. That said, barring any significant injury or new charges brought against a star player, here be official NFL predictions for the upcoming year.
If the Randy Moss trade happened in one of my Fantasy Leagues, there would have been a freaking riot. (Not so) quietly, the Pats have surrounded Brady with more quality receivers than at any other time in his career. My only question is if this officially acts as an apology from Robert Kraft for leaving him with Reche Caldwell and Troy Brown. Reluctantly, I put the Jets ahead of the Fins, only because I believe in Mangini a whole lot more than I believe in Cam Cameron. Even though I believe in Trent Green more than Pennington, neither team has a dominating running game to set them apart. All I know is Mangini led a very bad team to the playoffs last year, and Cam Cameron no longer has LDT to depend on.
The Bills have J.P. Losman playing quarterback.
I don’t care how anemic and old Baltimore looked in the playoffs against the Colts, that team can make any other look mortal (see Bears, Chicago). This was a 13 win team last year, and hopefully my grandma’s favorite player from Alcorn State still has some left in the tank. As we leave the University of Miami’s Mid-Atlantic alumni association, I find myself torn between two teams with reams of potential. The Cincin-Attica Bengals would be higher, and no where near a toss-up with Pitt, but I have to take into account all of the inevitable arrests. How has the commish not penalized the entire city of Cincy? Mike Tomlin’s team has some questions to answer, with the disgruntled nature of some players and the departure of Joey Porter, but I think they’ll manage. No one got hit by an old lady this off season, and Big Big looked pretty good throwing the pill in the preseason thus far. They should at least be battling for a playoff spot.
The “Browns” have Romeo Crennel coaching.
Peyton Manning did it. He infiltrated our society with commercials and ads and exceptionally funny, self deprecating SNL moments. He tricked us all into liking him, something I was sure he could never do, and something I thought would forever haunt his statistically proficient career. Oh, and he won a Super Bowl too. Vince Young is one of the brightest young stars the NFL has seen in years, but I question the ability of the running game to compliment. Plus, when his arm falls off due to the Madden Cover Curse, I question Kerry Collins’ ability to take a hit in a beer helmet. Jacksonville shocked a lot of people last year, but I think the coaches messing with the QB situation have done way more harm than good to the team as a whole.
The Texans have made no upgrades on the offensive line.
1. San Diego
My LDT rant aside, I can’t deny the obvious talent the TCU alum is. Watching film from last year, coupled with his kickass new Nike commercial, I am completely in awe of the ability he displays on the field. He is one of the greatest to carry the ball in recent memory, maybe of all time. And he will be carrying my Fantasy Team to greatness. The Horses looked great, until all those injuries during that meaningless preseason game. Note to the AFC West: just don’t throw at Champ Bailey. Don’t do it. Its not worth it. Kansas City has two mediocre QBs, a weak, injury riddled receiving corps, a bad defense, and no running back. When Larry Johnson signs, and his knee promptly implodes, don’t say I didn’t tell you so.
The Raiders have a teenager coaching.
The Illadelph looks very good this year. While I’m not as sure as Donovan F. about the prowess of this years Eagles squad, I do know that I believe in Brian Westbrook, Reggie Brown and that DF McNabb was a fantasy gem until his injury a year ago. Since Dallas is insisting on starting Tony Romo, they default to second in the East. Until he proves he can catch field goal snaps, I cannot in good faith put him any higher. The New Jersey Giants are bad, really bad. They have Kerry Collins Jr. under center…and that is the nicest thing I can say about them. No wonder Strahan doesn’t want to come back, even if his wife took half.
The Redskins have a psychopath as an owner.
Due to what can only be described as an instance of mass idiocy, Rex Grossman remains the starting quarterback for the returning NFC Champions. Cedric Benson will have to step his game up, as the running game is finally all his. Apparently, Devin Hester is going to be playing offense some too…he’s not even that good of a DB, why confuse him more. Minnesota had a great draft, made some key summer moves, yet will still be letting Jackson steer this Viking ship. Even two years later, boat humor still floats. Get it? Floats. Speaking of Bret Favre passes, I actually find myself rooting for him to overcome his old-man stubbornness, and to drag his team to the playoffs. It’s just been too long since an opposing team had to play in Lambeau in January.
The Lions have Matt Millen running things.
The team formally known as the Ain’ts looked great last year…until Reggie Bush tempted the football gods by teasing Brian Urlacher in the NFC Title game. Bad Reggie. That said, they actually look like a contender to repeat in the most competitive division in football. Between the continued heroics of Drew Brees and the two-headed monster backfield, they should hold up fine. I like Tampa because I like Jeff Garcia, and the way he carried a Philly team that could have imploded. Jon Gruden loves quarterbacks, he loves tough guys, and Jeff Garcia is a tough-guy QB. Carolina doesn’t look good. Not even a little bit. But, they still aren’t the dregs of this division.
The Falcons have Joey Harrington playing quarterback.
1. St. Louis
4. San Fran
I hate the Rams. Hate ‘em. But, this off season, Bulger got paid, Stephen Jackson got better, and the receiving corps got younger. Ah, two outta three ain’t bad. A refocused offense, a retooled defense, and a weak West screams of opportunity for the Rams. And an ailing, aging Shaun Alexander screams problems for Seattle. Hassleback and his pass-catchers benefited immeasurably in the Super Bowl season from Mr. Alexander’s greatness, I just think he’s a little worn down from carrying a team with a bird mascot (see Anderson, Jamal). I think Arizona could leap ahead of them, if ‘ol 37 is indeed wearing down as it appears, since those receivers are a BEAST. Though Matt Lienart would have to get them the ball. But, Edge will be there to keep the pressure off of the noodle armed former Trojan. Hence them being 2nd.
The 49ers have an injured Frank Gore.
PLAYOFF PICTURE AFC
2. San Diego
Indy blows by Kerry Collins and his squad, while the Denver/Old Browns match-up is a lot more interesting. Two defensively minded teams who don’t meet in the regular season, I have to give the nod to the more (historically) dependable running game in Denver. Jay Cutler notwithstanding, I think Shanahan learned from last year, and is ready to take this team deep into the playoffs.
The second playoff weekend looks to be much more interesting, where the Pats welcome Denver to Razor Stadium. The Super Pats’ firepower might be too much for the powerful for even the dominant Denver defense, and I don’t think the Horses can keep pace with New England. Speaking of Horses not keeping pace, Indy has lost way too much on the defensive side of the ball to hope to contain the Super Chargers. Game over Peyton.
1. The N.O.
2. St. Louis
Inter-divisional battles will define the first round of the playoffs, as the North and East see rematches. Obviously, I give the nod to whoever has the regular season edge, and as I would predict it, I see both higher seeds holding out against the Wild Card teams.
Round 2 sees a rematch of last years NFC title game, but things change this time: Rex Grossman serves to sink the ship that the defense has been carrying. If he’s under center, and the Bears make it this far, then the wheels get to come off a little earlier than last year. The other game sees the Eagles coming into the dome of the Rams, and leaving with a big, fat L. The history of Philly sports futility continues. This is a city that celebrated the Phillies losing the most games ever this season. And the story continues.
New England Patriots over New Orleans Saints.
It hurts me to say it. Tom Brady gets another ring. Look at the roster, its almost not fair. These guys are like a Madden 08 team where the owner made a bunch of one-sided trades to build a super team. Except it’s a real team. Barring Laurence Maroney stabbing himself in his heart with that ridiculous Kool-Aid necklace, nothing can stop Robert Kraft from adding to his collection of Lombardi Trophies