As if the excitement college football gave us last Saturday and Monday was not enough, the NFL opens tomorrow with a rematch the NFC Championship. Favre is back, did anyone really think he was gone? The Saints look strong again, as do the Colts. Can I go back to back years picking the Super Bowl champ? Is Oakland really a darkhorse? Do these shorts make my hips look too wide? Answers to none of these and more after the break.
As always, teams listed in the division in order of finish.
New England: Homerish you might say. Perhaps a little bit, but I remain convinced the Pats run is dying, not dead. As a very tan man once said, "To be the man, WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO, you gotta beat the man." The play-calling needs to become more balanced and diverse and a defense with very little experience will have to implement Belichick's schemes. I think the Pats barely win the division.
Miami(Wildcard): The Dolphins made some strong offensive moves in the offseason. Getting Marshall and unloading Ginn will make a world of difference in the pass possession game. Sparano will have the defense playing frisky but I can't completely trust Chad Henne...yet.
New York Jets: Moving to the state of New York was an interesting experience for a variety of reasons. The move corresponded to the Jets playoff run last year. This place is nuts for Jets. They dominate the sports talk radio, everyone is hyped on them for this year. Hard Knocks. Rex Ryan cursing. Tomlinson calf tats. El Sanchupaquatal. Revis and his horrible Dick's commercials. In the end a whole lot of sound and noise signifying a 9-7 season.
Buffalo: I know some Bills fans, and whenever the team comes into the discussion, their face curls up like someone just shat in their lemonade.
Baltimore: Baltimore has made every move they can to improve the offense. It is all right there for Joe Flacco and his plethora of wideouts. Heap may stay healthy. Ray Rice is a hoss. Can they finally ease some of the pressure off their defense, which will not be as good this year as in years past. The answer to that question varies, as does the predictions for the Ravens' finish.
Cincinnati(Wildcard): My flier pick for the year. A stupid gamble made on Carson Palmer's arm. That's why I don't gamble in real life. However Ocho, TO, and the defense will propel them to enough wins to squeak into the playoffs again. They got some breaks last year (aside from week 1) and they will again this year. I immediately regret this pick.
Pittsburgh: The Steelers foundation showed cracks last year, and the Rapey-time 4 game suspension will not only hurt them on the field but the attention will be a distraction for a team that likes to portray itself as a blue collar do-your-job team.
Cleveland: I have faith that the Browns will get to 6 or 7 wins. Cleveland sports fans have little patience or sanity left, Jake Delhomme will not endear himself to the Dog Pound.
Indianapolis: Peyton and the Colts will put in another workman like regular season. Flaws may appear that will hurt them in the playoffs (if Bob Sanders and Gonzalez make it through the year unscathed I will raise my eyebrows in wonder) but 12+ wins and a first round bye await them.
Houston: My flier was usually spent on the Texans who burned me the past two years. They are the team of the cusp. Always on the cusp with a great offense, Schaub and Andre Johnson as an elite combination but a few tough losses short. This year I saw the trend continues and will present its evidence in week 1 where they drop another heartbreaker to Indy.
Tennessee: The Titans are counting on Vince Young to continue his play from last year. Teams will do all they can to stop Chris Johnson and Johnson will still get his yards. The Titans will right as Fisher always has them do, but another .500 season awaits.
Jacksonville: Still happy with not drafting Tebow? Those could be your jerseys flying off the shelves. Your team spotlighted on TV. Your season tickets finally being sold. I can't wait to get my hands on a LA Jags hat with a flashy yellow brim.
San Diego: Choosing the Chargers in this division because of the QB. The team still has a lot of problems but I don't think anyone in the west overtakes them.
Kansas City: Chiefs will offer the most competition. Charlie Chee-burger Chee-burger and Romeo will create a decent scheme, but the players are still a little lacking.
Oakland: There are some reasons for optimism in Oaktown. The defense should be decent, offense might be somewhat competent.
Denver: Josh McDaniels dug his grave in the shape of Tebow's forceps, now he must lie in it.
Dallas: Doing my fantasy draft while writing this (just not enough hours in the day). I got Tony Romo as my QB. I am willing to sacrifice my fantasy team for Romo to not play well.
Giants: This is the bizarro world where the questions lie with the Giants defense and the offense should be the strong point.
Philadelphia: Kolb says he expects boos and is ok with the boos. He will get booed.
Washington: I am fine with the McNabb acquisition and the Shanahan hire, I just don't think the mess will be mopped up in one offseason.
Green Bay: We can stop calling Aaron Rodgers underrated. Everyone knows he is a good QB now. A lot of hype on the Packers this year.
Vikings(Wildcard): No magic season this year for Favre like last year but he will still be effective and the rest of the Viking weapons will propel them to another playoff appearance.
Detroit: This team has promise, they will score a few wins against teams they are not supposed to beat.
Chicago: Cold-weather city + old defense + gunslinger at QB + Mike Martz + Lovie + misuse of Hester = the Bears are not that good this year.
New Orleans: The Saints said something last year that stuck with me after they beat the piss out of New England on a Monday Night. They said they were trying to become New England, in terms of their success. They will find out this year it will be a tougher road when everyone is gunning for you.
Atlanta(Wildcard): There is one player who I think is the key to the Falcons success: Harry Douglas. Back from a knee injury, if he can be a solid number 2, the Atlanta offense will thrive.
Carolina: You know your team is heading for rebuilding when Dwayne Jarrett is your number 2 receiver and people are clamoring for Jimmy Clausen to start.
Tampa Bay: Early ax for Morris?
San Francisco: Because there is nobody else.
Arizona: Matt Leinart need only look in the mirror. He had years to learn from Warner and Whisenhunt. Only neglect can lead you to not even getting a chance to start.
Seattle: This ain't the Pac Ten brah.
St. Louis: Here lies Sam Bradford's confidence, David Carr sent flowers.
New England over Cincinatti
San Diego over Miami
Baltimore over San Diego
Indianapolis over New England
Baltimore over Indianapolis
Dallas over Atlanta
Minnesota over San Francisco
Green Bay over Dallas
Minnesota over New Orleans
Minnesota over Green Bay
Super Bowl Pick: Minnesota over Baltimore
And the Favre coverage makes your eyes bleed...