Just as you thought the offseason story lines were trimming down, the predictions are here (even if I’m the only one). I agree, they’re way too early, but maybe if you read the title this wouldn’t be so awkward. Moving on, in no way do I encourage you to
gamble casually bet on anything I say. (However, if you do win, I’ll collect ten percent. Thank you.)
Amidst the “Manning Sweepstakes” and the ever-so-fruitful NFL Draft, the season will be here right after training camp and you’re fantasy draft I don’t care about, has concluded. The schedule has been released (with every team having a primetime game) and changes throughout the coaching staffs, rosters, and front office have all come to a stop.
Also it’s nice to glide away from BountyGate and you haven’t heard my take on it, read: Luck is the Answer and Suspensions Aren’t. Goodell did what he had to do, while inflicting wounds on New Orleans and a handful of fans in the process.
So without further ado, here are seven (hopefully truthful) predictions for the not-so-far-away and upcoming NFL season.
1. Peyton Manning will win Comeback Player of the Year.
Probably not a good way to start off because this one is basically a shoe-in unless Manning suffers another injury early into the season. As long as Peyton returns as “Manning-Esque” or even in the vicinity of a well balanced year performance wise, he should walk away with this one. Could the NFL not give it to him? I don’t see how. He’ll be remembered as one of the NFL’s greatest QB’s and after missing a year due to 4 neck procedures, this is the year Peyton makes an official comeback, something he’s never had to do before. Something he’s ready to do, also.
While on Peyton; Denver’s chances at a title are projected at 12 to 1 odds, justifiable to all means. The AFC West most certainly could be a free-for-all with all four teams around equal talent, and all looking to make a splash in the postseason. When you upgrade from Tebow to Manning under center, that certainly boosts team morale, even if they lost the “Chosen One.” Skip Bayless (a.k.a. the worst sports analyst of all time) may argue that Tebow wins football games, but he left out that the mile-high defense won those football games. If Peyton completes more than five passes, Denver should be fine. No worries in Colorado. Even if John Elway sucks.
2. Houston will NOT win the AFC South.
Too many injuries and too many question marks. Who’s not to say Schaub, Foster, and Johnson all sustain injuries once again at some point during the regular season? And the hole left at DE when former #1 overall draft pick, Mario Williams, waltzed his way on to Buffalo for a larger paycheck will diminish the ability and leadership that was present last season. Wade Phillips will still have his defense ready to compete, just maybe not at the intensity level we grew accustomed to last year.
Hamstrings are an issue with Foster as well as they with Andre Johnson, I’m not too convinced they’ll ever be 100 percent ever again, but who am I to hypothesize? Schaub is hoping to find the right footing (Like that pun? I didn’t think so.), as he returns from some orthopedic affliction that sidelined him last season, maybe even costing them a Super Bowl run.
I’ll be taking the Tennessee Titans to win the AFC South, as they looked poised last season, but fell short in the end. They upgraded at the wide-out position by surprisingly selecting Kendall Wright out of Baylor at the twenty spot in the this year’s first round. Hasselback should play up to par and if an injury happens to occur, Jake Locker could very well play at the same level, if not better.
3. Rex Ryan will lose his job.
You knew I had to deprecate Tebow a little more, but the problem this time is that he will cost his head coach a few million in the long run. Not only did New York make the most colossal mistake they could have made, they are jeopardizing the future of a proven playoff winner in Mark Sanchez. Apparently they didn’t notice how the media ran Kyle Orton out of Denver in a hastily fashion, because the same could happen for the kid from southern LA. And that shouldn’t happen.
Tim Tebow can’t play football. I’m not even sure if he’s there for the football anymore. Enjoying the camera a bit too much, Tim? When the Jets start out 1-4 (look at their schedule), the quarterback controversy will approach its peak, then Rex will bench Sanchez only to lead to MORE losses. Therefore, costing Ryan his first (and successful) head coaching job, sending him back to the life of a defensive coordinator.
Rex Ryan won’t deserve the wrath he is about to receive, nor will he be able to avoid it. Sanchez was the franchise quarterback, too bad that’s all being thrown away. Sorry Rex, it wasn’t supposed to end like this.
4. Most competitive division: NFC South.
Tampa Bay added firepower through free agency as well as the draft, Carolina will play competitively (maybe not improve record-wise, though), Atlanta will be Atlanta of the past few years, and New Orleans should lose a couple wins due to that whole coaching situation/Drew Brees not wanting to play situation. Trying not to listen to local TV broadcasts about the Bucs down here in Florida, but reports of Schiano taking over the helm of the coaching staff have been nothing but positive. Carolina was quiet in this year’s draft, nothing too flashy, but completely productive. Newton will have experience under his belt, and if the defense can move up a notch, they could be looking at eight to a possible ten wins.
Atlanta is looking to return to form, except they should be looking to actually get the monkey off their backs and win a playoff game under the Smith-Ryan tandem. The departure of Curtis Lofton will be a hurdle the defense has to jump, but something they’re willing to accomplish. It could finally be Atlanta’s year, but then again, that’s what I say about my fantasy team every year (nothing but disappointment on that frontier).
Figuring out where New Orleans’ stands doesn’t get much easier: Coach suspended, players suspended, and possibly nothing to show at the quarterback position. It doesn’t seem as if another 13 win season is in store, and maybe the playoffs are something they shouldn’t even be worrying about. But as long as Brees plays, they’ll get a modest amount of victories. Thanks a lot, Roger.
5. Green Bay will once again have the best regular season record.
Take a look at Green Bay’s schedule, easier than last season’s and without the pressure of being defending Super Bowl Champions. In hindsight, it’s tough to win 14-15 games two years in a row, but if there was a team with the offensive firepower to do so, it would be this team from Wisconsin. The MVP is returning at full strength, coupled with the mental outlook to win after blowing a playoff game at the Frozen Tundra. I don’t see McCarthy’s team playing down to anyone’s level. Only playing on their level, a level no other team can match, for the regular season, that is (note: more on this later).
Rodgers also did escape the “Curse of the Madden Cover” by most likely paying off the producers of SportsNation to make sure he didn’t prevail victorious. And to make it even sweeter, he probably made sure Calvin Johnson won (sure enough, he did), purposely trashing a divisional rival’s season. “The Madden Curse,” it’s a real thing.
6. New England will win the AFC, again.
Not only did Belichick have the best draft of his career, his team is coming back stronger and a tad more upset after dropping another Super Bowl to the New York Giants. They’re the most well-coached and most dignified team in the NFL today, and not only does the AFC look slim, the Pats look like the favorites. If you need more proof, this Pats fan couldn’t have put it any better: click here.
I’m not able to write about this team like I do my Browns, but I’m from New England, and for some odd un-forsaken reason, it’s their year. Again. Chandler Jones and Dont’a Hightower were tremendous selections for a terrible defense that almost won the Super Bowl. Brady is back, eyeing the most Super Bowl appearances by a quarterback ever, at six. Welker recently signed his franchise tag, they added Brandon Lloyd, Joseph Adaii came aboard, and they brought back Jabar Gaffney.
The only offseason loss that potentially could hurt was the loss of Green-Ellis to Cincinnati. I did predict Cedric Benson would find his way to Foxboro, doesn’t seem a reality as of now, but don’t count it out just yet. He still needs somewhere to play. I don’t say this often, nor do I ever predict the Patriots to win. Don’t take this one for granted, New England.
7. San Francisco will win the NFC.
One muffed punt away from the Super Bowl last season, and now, the Niners have improved. With help offensively to the wide-outs, Randy Moss is attempting a comeback (and he’ll contribute, he’s playing for something), and Manningham is bringing talent that was highly unnoticed until the Super Bowl, to the bay area. The already accomplished backfield has now added Brandon Jacobs and LaMichael James to the likes of Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter, and a working project in Anthony Dixon.
Not to mention, all eleven starters from last season’s impecable defense are returning. All under the guidance and coaching ability of the NFL’s next greatest coach, Jim Harbaugh. San Fran went 13-3 during the regular season last year, while improving in the offseason, it’s their conference to win. They play Green Bay week 1, setting the tone for the rest of the road. Green Bay will still emerge with the better record, due in-part to the an easier schedule, but San Francisco will be headed to New Orleans with a Super Bowl trophy in mind.
They’re hoping to get past those Patriots for their newest Lombardi Trophy, while keeping in mind: We better hold on to those damn punts.
I’m welcoming you back to football, one step and one prediction at a time. Just as long as you remember where you heard it first, right here at PSB (All Rights Reserved). I’ll let you get back to watching some playoff basketball (and playoff hockey if you’re into that), as well as managing your let-down of a fantasy baseball team.
Now get on out there back to reality, as I leave you with something Mr. Goodell hasn’t thought of in a while, due to those countless lawsuits…
Have a great rest of the offseason.
(Just kidding, I’ll be back.)
About the Author
Written by Corey Rioux
A wise man once told me, "Sports are modern-day mythology." I tend to disagree. Proper grammar is optional. You can read my columns here: http://www.prosportsblogging.com/author/c_rioux23/ You can follow me on twitter at: @C_Rioux23 You can contact me via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org