Alright, well we are underway! Let’s get right to it: I’m gonna go through each division, each team and give you a rundown of how I believe things are gonna shake out. I’ll of course give you my reasonings behind each prediction.
Note: At the time of press, the Saints had already defeated the Vikings, but I am on record as betting the over on the Saints for the game (I now owe John Hamnett a beer) as witnessed by Sam Farrand. So there’s that. Take it up with them.
Bills: 3-13. Even with CJ Spiller as the lead back, the Bills need so much help on defense and on there O-Line that he can’t do everything in one year. Massive rebuilding is needed here. They will be the 1st pick in the 2011 draft.
Jets: 9-7. Good enough for 3rd place in the AFC East. Dont believe the hype! They still haven’t proven that they can pass the ball. Sure, they’re gonna have a winning record, but in 2010, you have to be able to throw the ball. The Jets can have as good of a defense as they want, but it’s their offense that’s holding them back.
Pats: 9-7. 2nd place in the AFC East, and good enough for a wild card spot. The Patriots are not a team to ever count out. Tom Brady has a new 4-year contract, and some fresh new TE’s to throw to over the middle. The running game is still suspect, but someone has to emerge as the top dog there. The team has finally gotten younger, and could possibly make some noise in the postseason.
Dolphins: 10-6. The Dolphins got a LOT better during the offseason when they traded next to nothing for WR Brandon Marshall. He is the soul person who is going to open up the offense this year for the Dolphins. As long as the defense can keep up, then Miami might be hosting at least one home playoff game this year.
Raiders: 5-11. Even though Al Davis finally did something right by jettisoning JaMarcus Russel, it still may not be enough to make up for some of the other picks the Raiders have made in the past few years (see: Heyward-Bey, Darius). Jason Campbell is good, but with so many questions this year, I don’t see the Raiders winning many games.
Chiefs: 7-9. It’s not much, but it’s an improvement from last year. Matt Cassel has something to prove this year, as does Dwayne Bowe. Thomas Jones is not going to be sitting on the bench all year. He will make some kind of impact, as well as Jamaal Charles. I see them stealing a game from each of their division opponents this year. Watch out for Eric Berry on D, he is already showing us why he was the number 5 pick.
Broncos: 8-8. Pretty similar to last season, except without the 6-0 start. Kyle Orton has been lights out in the preseason, and the defense is still a scrappy bunch, even without Elvis Dumervil. The loss of Brandon Marshall really does hurt though. Look for the Broncos to be a middle of the pack team this year.
Chargers: 9-7. San Diego wins the division this year by default. But this isn’t your older brother’s Chargers team. We will have to wait and see if LT was right when he said that the offensive line play was terrible. With Vincent Jackson potentially holding out for the entire year, it will be up to Phillip Rivers to find his unproven receivers and lean heavily on a veteran TE and a rookie RB to shoulder a lot of the burden. Even if the Chargers make the playoffs, they may have to face a team like New England in the wild card round, and that doesn’t bode well.
Browns: 4-12. You know that NFL Fantasy commercial, with the fans watching the dots on the field instead of players? Yeah, that’s kind of how the Browns are.
Steelers: 8-8. I’m predicting a 1-3 start to the season for the Steelers, who will be relying heavily on their run game (Dennis Dixon) to try and carry the baton until Big Roofies comes back. A 7-5 record after Ben’s return is more of a realistic expectation.
Bengals: 8-8. After winning the division last year only to bow out in the 1st round of the playoffs, the Bengals face a TOUGH schedule this year. Pats, Jets, Chargers, Colts, Saints and Ravens all made the playoffs last year, and are all aspiring to repeat. Not to mention the Dolphins and the Falcons, two teams I have as making the playoffs. Not to mention that if Carson Palmer goes down, just because you have his brother doesn’t mean that he’s the same player. And that’s AFTER Carson proves all the doubters wrong.
Ravens: 12-4. You better start drinking the Kool-Aid. Or the Purple Drank. Either way, the Ravens are the real deal. Do I need to start throwing some names out there? Probably not (Anquan Boldin). The Ravens have the most balanced team in, well, forever (TJ Houshmanzadeh) and are looking to spread opposing defenses out, forcing less than 8 and 7 men inside the box against.. Oh yeah, Ray Rice. Who had 2500 all-puropse yards last year. When they didn’t have Boldin. Or Housh. Uh Oh, spaghettios.
Jags: 7-9. Here is the by-product of a good team in a great division. If the Jags were in the West, they’d be making a push for the playoffs. But facing Manning, Shaub, and Chris Johnson twice a year each is no easy task for that defense.
Texans: 8-8. The Colts just seem to have their number year in and year out. Until they can get over that hurdle, it seems that Shaub & Co. are doomed to .500 seasons.
Titans: 9-7. The Titans went 8-2 under Vince Young last year when he took over under center after their bye. This is an exciting team that just plain wins games. 10-6 is definitely a possibility and it will depend on how they play against the NFC East this year.
Colts: 12-4. The question with the colts isn’t about making the playoffs- they are there every year. The question is: How has everyone else done in trying to improve their team enough to beat the Colts?
Eagles: 7-9. I do think that the Eagles are going to be good… Next Year. Kolb is definitely going to have some growing pains, and this offense as a whole is a very young group. But they are also a very talented team, and if it does start firing on all cylinders, you have games like the ones last year in which Kolb started. I just think that people should temper their expectations for now, sit back and enjoy, because next year they are winning the division.
Redskins: 8-8. Mike Shanahan knows how to win, and so does Donovan McNabb. Like I said, I think McNabb gives the skins 3 wins and takes 3 away from the Eagles. While this is a step in the right direction, 3 wins only puts them at .500 this year. The ground game really needs to prove to me that they can move the chains. But, Clinton Portis knows this run system, and even though it was years ago, he should still have a little bit of gas left in the tank.
Giants: 8-8. All hail the New York Giants? Not so fast. I’m scared of their run game, I’m nervous about Eli Manning, I’m optimistic about their Defense this year, and I’m terrified of their coaching staff. Have you noticed that Tom Coughlin likes all the praise when they play well, but it’s never his fault when they don’t? Will someone please tell me who the #1 running back is? If Eli has another good year like he did last year, then maybe I’ll bump this prediction up. Either way, Giants are 2nd in the division, but not good enough for a playoff berth.
Cowboys: 10-6. For all the hype that this offense had been getting before the preseason, they sure didn’t look like that team during those games. I don’t know what it was about the offense that I saw, but I just didn’t like it. Maybe when Dez Bryant steps on the field, the difference could be made. But a preseason that starts with a lot of hype and ends with a lot of question marks is never good. It’s gonna be a long road if they want to play for the Lombardi at home.
Seahawks: 4-12. It’s almost a shame. I don’t know what it is about the Seahawks, but I don’t like it. Hassleback hasn’t been the same since Jim Zorn left town. I don’t trust Justin Forsett or Leon Washington. They just cut loose Housh. I hope that Pete Carrol does a good job up there, I really do. But it’s going to come with next year’s 1st rounder plus a couple of good free agents.
Rams: 5-11. Sam Bradford is the real deal. He throws a tight, accurate ball and he looks poised and polished. Now, he just needs a couple of decent receivers to throw to. Mark Clayton just got traded over from Baltimore, and he can be a decent deep threat. Laurent Robinson is a trendy fantasy sleeper, and don’t forget Steven Jackson. What I am worried about is the O-Line, and Bradford getting punished every game by D-Linemen. Here’s to a lot of shotgun formations..
Cards: 7-9. Kurt Warner and Anquan Boldin are gone, not to mention Antrel Rolle and Karlos Dansby. That’s 4 huge playmakers, replaced by Derek Anderson, Steve Breaston, Kerry Rhodes and rookie Daryl Washington. There is no way that they are going to pick back up where last year’s team left off. You could even see Max Hall, a rookie QB, starting by the end of the year if things go wrong. Which they will.
49ers: 11-5. This leaves San Fran at the top of the heap. But not just by luck, no. This team can be great under Mike Singletary. They’ve got playoffs on the brain, and I think that this year’s dark horse for the Championship could be the ‘9ers. They’ve got a great defense, and now an offense with two strong rookie linemen, a happy crabby, and Vernon Davis, aka beast mode. Alex Smith will be just fine under center. And I haven’t even mentioned Frank Gore. I’ll be giving high praises to San Fran this year.
Lions: 6-10. Slowly, slowly, slowly is how Detroit football has been climbing back up the ladder. I don’t believe that you can count out the Lions this year in any game. They got better on both sides of the ball. Watch out for Jhavid Best. If he stays healthy, he can be special. I talked about him last April in my draft predictions. Matt Stafford has his rookie year under his belt, and he played admirably. Look for his numbers to improve this year. This team will eventually climb out of the cellar.
Bears: 7-9. I want the Bears to be better than this, but I just don’t see that happening in a division with 2 other playoff teams. Mike Martz’s offense will be interesting to watch in the Windy City. It’s all up to Jay Cutler and his receivers now, none of which are really proven. The defense looks good, which is a good sign. Maybe next year, Bears..
Vikings: 10-6. This is Brett Favre’s last season. For real. No, seriously! They did look really good against the Saints, and if they can just move the ball a little better then I believe that they’ve got one more deep playoff run in them. For Brett!!
Packers: 12-4. This is the big fish in the NFC this year. They’ve got the recipe for a NFC championship in 2010. They’ve got the QB, the RB, the WR’s, the TE. They’ve got the Defense. Things are looking up in Wisconsin.
Bucs: 4-12. They’re just plain not good. They’ve got a whole lot to prove with a 2nd year QB and Head Coach. Their run game is suspect at best. Their Defense can be good, but again, like the Jets, you need more than a good Defense to win a Championship. It doesn’t help that they play the Saints and Falcons twice a year.
Panthers: 7-9. Again, this is a good team in a division with 2 great playoff teams. The two-headed monster of D-Will and the Daily Show should put up numbers, as well as Matt Moore and Steve Smith. But, that defense.. they just can’t stop the high-octane offenses of the Saints and Falcons. When they have a 1st round pick next year, they need to choose wisely.
Falcons: 10-6. Atlanta will have a bounce-back year with a healthy Michael Turner and a 3rd year Matt Ryan. They improved on Defense, and should be poised for a playoff push. I’m smelling a wild card for the Falcons this year, but not much more.
Saints: 11-5. It’s so tough to repeat a Super Bowl champs these days, because you’ve got such a target on your back. Which is exactly why it won’t happen this year for New Orleans. Even though they haven’t gotten any worse on either side of the ball, the pressure of performing well will ultimately cause the Saints to buckle under playoff pressure. They will win the division for sure- but watch out for hungrier teams such as Dallas and Minnesota.
1st Round Byes: BAL, IND
Wildcard teams: NE, TEN
1st round: TEN over MIA, NE over SD
2nd Round: BAL over TEN, NE over IND
AFC Champ: BAL over NE
1st Round Byes: GB, NO
Wildcard teams: MIN, ATL
1st Round: SF over ATL, MIN over DAL
2nd Round: MIN over NO, SF over GB
NFC Champ: SF over MIN
So, there you have it. Ravens over 49ers in the Super Bowl. Hope you enjoyed my predictions. Please comment!
I’ll be giving my team record predictions and thoughts on the regular season. I’ll also be predicting the playoff teams and super bowl champ. Most of you know who I already have picked for the SB in the AFC, but the NFC might surprise you…
Sorry guys. I wish I coulda been more on top of it right after the draft, but stuff got in the way. Anyways, let’s take a look at some things I noticed during the draft, and a few thoughts.
I was really happy that I got the first 7 picks right. Kudos to me. After that, the Raiders blew me up (which I wasn’t surprised about). What I WAS surprised about was that the Raiders actually made a good pick in Rolando McClain. I’m pretty sure they run a 4-3 defense over there, which makes the MLB pretty important. And McClain is a vocal guy out on the field. He can get the job done for sure. What I didn’t understand was why they traded away their #1 tackler in Kirk Morrison. In my mind, it pretty much negated the McClain pick. I understand if they wanted him to be the starter, but you could have found a spot for Morrison instead of jutting him off for another pick. Classic Raiders right there.
CJ Spiller to the Bills??? Why, I ask? It doesn’t make sense. You’ve got 2 good running backs with Jackson and Lynch. There were so so so many more positions that needed help. Maybe they went with ‘best available player’ on their board, and went with that approach. But, that only works for a team that doesn’t have any glaring needs.
Tyson Ala-who-lu? Obviously this is the biggest reach here in the 1st round (yes, even more than Tebow), and so everyone notices this pick standing out here. But the Jags stuck to their guns, and drafted an almost completely new front seven. Time will only tell if they made the right picks. That’s all I wanted to say about it.
The middle of the first round went almost exactly how I thought it would. A few teams traded down/up but the players weren’t surprising. Anthony Davis and Bryan Bulaga flip-flopped in my mock. The Titans drafted Derrick Morgan. I thought some good picks were the Chargers moving up to get their guy in Ryan Mathews, Earl Thomas to the ‘Hawks, the 18-21 picks (Pouncey, Weatherspoon, Jackson, Gresham) I really liked the Demarius Thomas pick, and the Dez Bryant pick. No one reached too much for them and that’s a good thing.
And now, the steal of the 1st round goes to: Ozzie Newsome. The Ravens GM traded out of the first round for a 2nd, 3rd and 4th, and they ended up getting Sergio Kindle, a top-15 prospect with a late slide because of medical concerns. Well, if you can say one thing about Ozzie Newsome, it’s that he has a history of taking on guys that slide down the draft because of medical questions. Kindle is an absolute steal in the 2nd round and allows the Ravens to have some flexibility at LB. Pair him with Terrence Cody, their other 2nd-rounder, and you’ve got two 1st-rounders in the 2nd round. Unreal.
Even though they slid, Jimmy Clausen and Colt McCoy actually ended up in some pretty good landing spots. It may take a year to devellop McCoy, but the style of offense the Browns want to implement will suit McCoy very well. Kudos to Mike Holmgren for working the Draft and being able to select McCoy with the 85th pick, not the 39th. Jimmy Clausen is going into a great situation in Carolina. He won’t be asked to do too much, as they are primarily a running team. And running teams can carry you into the playoffs if the QB isn’t asked to do much. Look at the last 3 starting rookie QB’s to take their teams to the playoffs- Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco, and Mark Sanchez. All 3 had great running games, and they weren’t asked to do too much. I think that you give Clausen every chance to be the starter, and let him battle it out with Matt Moore. Could get interesting.
And, now the one that everyone wants to know about- Tim Tebow. Yeah, he’s a first round pick and there’s nothing that anyone can do about it. He’s not an NFL QB, blah, blah blah.. I think that he’s gonna do just fine. Sure, he might be a ‘developmental’ guy or whatever, but who would you rather have as your starter in 2011- Brady Quinn, or Tim Tebow? Exactly. This guy is a winner. He’s beaten teams led by Sam Bradford, Matt Stafford, Colt McCoy and Jamarcus Russell, to name a few. The last ‘developmental’ QB to sit for a few years…? Aaron Rodgers. Ever heard of him? Give Tebow one year- and ‘you won’t see a guy working any harder to help his team win’. I think I’ve heard someone say something like that before..
Any other thoughts? Feel free to chime in. What was your favorite late-round pick? Are you mad at your team? Are you happy? Let’s talk it up
I changed my Draft Board a little. Here are my final predictions. Of course, someone is going to make a trade and screw it all up, but if there are no trades, then here is how I believe it will shake down:
- Rams- Sam Bradford, QB- after passing up on Matt Ryan and Mark Sanchez the past 2 drafts, the Rams finally get their guy
- Lions- Ndamukong Suh, DT- Best player in the draft, hands down. You can’t pass him up.
- Bucs- Gerald McCoy, DT- consolation prize, and they are hoping he’s the next Warren Sapp
- Redskins- Trent Williams, OT- better suited for Shanahan’s zone-blocking schemes than Okung
- Chiefs- Eric Berry, S- Bulaga’s game tape has him sliding a bit, and you haven’t see another playmaking safety like this in years.
- Seahawks- Russell Okung, OT- will be a solid tackle, replacing Walter Jones. Could take CJ Spiller here and hope there’s an OT left at #14
- Browns- Joe Haden, CB- Browns will try and trade out of this pick, but if there are no biters then Haden is their guy.
- Raiders- Jason Paul-Pierre, DT- Freak athlete and huge potential. Sounds like an Oakland #1 pick.
- Bills- Dan Williams, DT- Bills will also try and trade into the middle of the 1st round, and they could also get a OT here, but with their new 3-4 defense, they need an anchor.
- Jags- Rolando McClain, ILB- Again, trying to trade out, but if not then they’ll go grab the best MLB in the draft
- Broncos- Maurkice Pouncey, C- Broncos have fallen in love with this guy leading up to Draft, Steelers will have to wait until next year to draft his identical twin brother
- Dolphins- Earl Thomas, S- Since Dan Williams is gone, they will try to trade back to say, the Eagles at 24, but again, if not then they will take the best defensive player
- 49ers- Bryan Bulaga, OT- even though not a top 5 player anymore, he’s still solid, and the 49ers will be very happy if he falls here
- Seahawks- CJ Spiller, RB- Again, they might try to grab him at #6, but I think they’ll end up with him. I dont think they’re going to take Clausen, they seem to be pretty sold with Whitehurst for now
- Giants- Mike Iupati, G- Giants need to get some youth in their offensive line, and this guy has a huge motor and a mean streak that their O-line needs.
- Titans- Derrick Morgan, DE- Most NFL-ready DE in the draft, and he’ll fill in nicely since KVB is gone.
- 49ers- Kyle Wilson, CB- it was almost Jimmy Clausen, but they want to give Alex Smith one more chance, and DB is a huge need also.
- Steelers- Kareem Jackson, CB- he’s been creeping up the boards, and if the Steelers don’t take a DB here I’ll be really surprised.
- Falcons- Brandon Graham, DE- The Falcons are looking to improve on D, and Graham gives them a hybrid-backer who should be pretty good if used correctly.
- Taxans- Ryan Matthews, RB- I really wanted them to take a D-back here, but only if Kyle Wilson falls to them will they do it. They need solid RB play if they want to win the AFC South this year.
- Bengals- Jermaine Gresham, TE- Cincy has never ever had a legitimate pass-catching TE since Carson Palmer was the starter. This could get ugly.
- Patriots- Dez Bryant, WR- Belicheck will have a hard time passing up on Jared Odrick here, but Randy Moss isn’t getting any younger, and the Pats have never hesitated on ‘troubled’ players.
- Packers- Anthony Davis, OT- The Packers can’t believe he fell this far, and in Michael Oher fashion, an OT goes with the 23rd pick.
- Eagles- Taylor Mays, S- if the Eagles don’t trade up for Earl Thomas, then expect Mays to go here. They can use him at Nickel to start the year.
- Ravens- Jared Odrick, DT/DE- Ravens can plug in this workhorse from Day One, and solidify a D-Line that will take pressure off a banged-up pass D.
- Cardinals- Sergio Kindle, OLB- Cards will take best available, and this is a steal at 26 if they nab him.
- Cowboys- Charles Brown, OT- They might also reach for Bruce Campbell if they feel he will have a higher ceiling, but the need for OT is their biggest.
- Chargers- Terrence Cody, DT- ‘Mount’ Cody will replace Jamal Williams for years to come.
- Jets- Everson Griffen, DE- What more do the Jets need? Defensive-minded Rex Ryan will get a new toy to play with here. Griffen could be huge.
- Vikings- Jimmy Clausen, QB- the eventual heir to the Favre throne, Clausen will probably fall this far if he falls past #17.
- Colts- Devin McCourty, CB- The Colts draft based on need, and they need OL and DB. Boring.
- Saints- Sean Weatherspoon, OLB- Saints get a steal here with the freakishly athletic Weatherspoon.
That’s it! I swear. Until after the draft anyway.
The NFL Draft is Thursday, and from what I’ve been delving into lately, I’ve come up with some predictions/scenarios/thoughts on prospects, picks, and trends. So here are some of my predictions:
- Contradicting my Mock 2.0, I believe the Lions will take Ndamukong Suh. You just can’t pass on this guy, I’m sorry. If you saw the Sports Science segment on him, he has the fastest acceleration burst out of anyone that they tested. He actually hits harder than Ray Lewis. Literally. Tested. Done. Next:
- The Browns are going to trade down. I think that Eric Berry will get selected by the Seahawks. They aren’t going to pay #7 money for Joe Haden, who I don’t even think is the best Cornerback in the draft (I think it’s Kyle Wilson). The Browns are rebuilding, so trading down for more picks makes the most sense, especially with the value in the middle of the first round.
- The Jaguars will also try to trade down and the Steelers might bite on this to grab someone they really want. They have 11 picks, and not 11 open spots on their roster. Since the Browns won’t trade their pick to division foe Pittsburgh, Jacksonville makes the most sense. If not then they go pass-rush, possibly Derrick Morgan or Rolando McClain.
- Dez Bryant will not go in the top half of the draft. I think he may even slip to the Bengals or Patriots. That is, if the Raiders don’t scoop him up.
- Someone is going to take a chance on Tim Tebow early in the 2nd round. Pay close attention to this one, kiddies. They wouldn’t have invited him to the Draft for no reason.
- The Redskins are going to trade away Albert Haynesworth between the 1st and 2nd rounds. Haynesworth and Jason Campbell to the Raiders for their second-round pick, and a 2nd-rounder next year? Mark it down. Stranger things have happened.
- The Ravens will do something awesome with their first round pick. They always do..
- Michael Vick might be changing addresses over the weekend. Even though Carolina has less picks, if they don’t get the QB they want in the draft then they might try and cut a deal for him. The Eagles will probably pick up another veteran as a backup anyway. Jeff Garcia is still out there.
- The Rams might trade away the 1st pick. Think about it. They can go about as far back as pick #5 and still be a safe bet for Bradford to fall to them. It all depends on if a team really wants Suh or McCoy that badly. This way, the Rams won’t have to pay #1 money, and still get their guy.
- The 2nd round picks will be more interesting than the 1st round picks. Because the talent pool is so deep, and the 1st round is pretty much locked in to the same players, the 2nd round is where stuff will get really interesting. This is where teams will start to wheel and deal, jockeying for their guy to fall to them. Some of the big names to look out for in the 2nd round include Golden Tate, Colt McCoy, Tebow, Brandon Spikes, and Devin McCourty. Should be interesting.
I can’t wait for Thursday night at 7pm. I’ll be back after that to comment on the 1st round picks. Look out, Mel Kiper.