It's that time of the year again. When the grass on Friday nights smells different from any other day. When Saturdays are spent glued to the TV, just waiting for that magical moment you want to tell your kids about. When Sundays are spent avoiding your significant other, just to get out of doing chores. IT'S FOOTBALL SEASON. It is definitely my favorite sport, and my favorite time of the year. I cannot be happier right now.
Every year, I write my season predictions for the NFL season. The only difference is, this year, I'll be publishing for the world to see. (Probably just the 4 people that might happen to read this.) Anyway, here are my picks! Let me know what you think.
American Football Conference
1. New England Patriots
Wes Welker is supposedly healthy. That makes me think the Patriots offense will be just fine. Although they have a pedestrian run game, at best, the passing game is very efficient. The defense is in a bit of a rebuilding mode, but that's what Belichick does best. His team will yet again be atop the AFC East. I see them finishing the year out at 11-5.
2. New York Jets
I feel like I am the only person on the planet who didn't buy into the Jets "success" last year. The only reason they were even in the playoffs were because the Colts and the Bengals rolled over and allowed them to win. Although I agree that their defense is second to none, I don't believe their offense will be able to win them enough games to be an elite team this year. Mark Sanchez looks to have improved this offseason, but that's not saying much after throwing for 12 TD's and 20 INT's last year. The recent signing of Darrelle Revis shored up the defensive unit for another chance, but I see them coming up just short of a division title. Look for the Jets to finish the year at 9-7 for the second straight year.
3. Miami Dolphins
Yes, they signed Brandon Marshall and Karlos Dansby. Brandon Marshall will be catching balls from a VERY unproven QB in Chad Henne, and Dansby is a good linebacker, not a great one. I believe the offense does improve with Marshall, I just don't see him being a huge offensive threat in such a run heavy offense and a QB that is in his 1st full season as a starter. The defense will be improved, with two young corners who I think will be very good this year. Dolphins finish the year at 9-7.
4. Buffalo Bills
I really don't even want to write about the Bills. They have no QB. They have no offensive line. Their defense isn't good. At all. The only bright spot on their roster is C.J. Spiller, and he won't be that successful due to the items previously mentioned. I say the Bills finish the year at 4-12. Jake Locker, welcome to Buffalo.
1. Cincinnati Bengals
Yes, I am drinking the Bengals Kool-Aid. They have a great running game and a combination of 2 fantastic receivers. Add rookie Jordan Shipley in the slot, and Jermaine Gresham at TE and you have what could easily be the most prolific offense in all of football. Cedric Benson had a coming out party last year and I don't see him going away anytime soon. The defense under Mike Zimmer was very good last year, and they have the best duo of corners in football as well. The only question marks for this team are their pass blocking, and their ability to get to the quarterback. Antwan Odom was very impressive early in the season last year until going out with an achilles injury. Roy Williams has slimmed down and appears to be ready to play football again for the first time in 5 years. All that being said, the Cincinnati Bengals are my pick to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl. I see them going 12-4 on the season.
2. Baltimore Ravens
Joe Flacco. Ray Rice. Anquan Boldin. T.J. Houshmandzadeh. Those are the reasons to love the Ravens this year. However, I am not sold on their defense. I know that sounds absolutely insane, but the secondary is a shell of it's former self. If Ed Reed was healthy, I would be more inclined to have the Ravens go farther this year. The front 7 for the Ravens is still stellar, but getting very long in the tooth. Ray Lewis is in his 15th year, and Terrell Suggs looks like he's even older than Ray. I'm just not sold on this team like everyone else. Ravens go 10-6 purely off offensive firepower and earn a Wild Card birth.
3. Pittsburgh Steelers
Ben Roethlisberger has screwed the Steelers. His 4 game suspension can have one of two effects on this team. They can either be so far behind in the division upon his return that they're done for the season, or his return will rejuvenate the team and they'll finish strong. I'm going with the former. The defense will be excellent, yet again, but it's very possible the run game won't be the Steelers strength once again, and with the loss of Santonio Holmes in the off-season the passing game won't be very strong. Steelers finish out 10-6, but miss the playoffs.
4. Cleveland Browns
Jake Delhomme is the answer Cleveland fans!!! Clearly no one buys that, so I don't understand why they're trying. Mike Holmgren has too good of a football mind to believe it either. We'll see Colt McCoy by Week 8. Joshua Cribbs is a waste in Cleveland and only has a real effect on special teams. Jerome Harrison is a flash in the pan in my opinion as well, so fantasy owners, I hope you didn't draft him. I don't know why you would consider drafting any Cleveland player except Jamal Lewis. He retired? Ok. Cleveland is irrelevant currently in the NFL. They will go 3-13.
1. Indianapolis Colts
They'll go 12-4 this year. Ho hum. Manning will throw for 4,500 yards and 40 TD's. Just another year in the Midwest. The real question here is whether or not Bob Sanders will play more than 4 games. If he does, the Colts will be in the AFC Championship, if not, they'll go to the Divisional round. Either way, no one in the division has the firepower to match up with the Colts.
2. Tennessee Titans
They're young on defense. Their QB is possibly bi-polar. They have Chris Johnson. The Titans are a threat in the AFC this year. Believe me. Jeff Fisher is also the most under-appreciated coach in all of football. His players seem to love him and they play hard for him. Vince Young brings a whole new dimension to the offense, and that was apparent last year. Chris Johnson will probably run for 2,000 yards again and the Titans will make the postseason. I admit, this is my "I can't explain it, I just see it happening" pick. Titans go 11-5 and win the Wild Card.
3. Houston Texans
Oh the Texans. They just can't seem to get over the hump. Matt Schaub is a good QB and they have the best receiver in all of football in Andre Johnson. They have a serviceable defense, but I feel like they're going to go 8-8. Again. I really don't know what it is about this team that keeps them from winning, it's just in their nature. I kind of hope they surprise me a little bit though.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars
They're bad. Maurice Jones-Drew is hurt. I don't see him playing more than 4 games this year. They'll go 3-13. Maybe 5-11 if MJD is actually healthy. (Sorry, I just don't see the point of writing about this team. They're that bad.)
1. San Diego Chargers
The Chargers win by default. The whole team seems to be in disarray right now not having contracts with Marcus McNeill or Vincent Jackson. They let their leader of the past 10 years walk to New York and their offensive hopes ride on Ryan Mathews. Bad decision on their part. The defense will probably be a little better than last year, but lucky for them, they're in a terrible division. 10-6.
2. Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs have weapons. I can't believe I said it either. Jamaal Charles looks to be a legit RB in the NFL and hopefully Thomas Jones can help the kid out. The o-line looks to be improved this year and Matt Cassel isn't that bad. Dwayne Bowe has shed some pounds, and Chris Chambers refuses to go away. I just have a sneaking suspicion about this team. If they get hot, they could overtake the Chargers. It's unlikely, but possible. 8-8 is my best guess for these guys.
3. Oakland Raiders
Jason Campbell is a decent quarterback. He was wrongfully treated in Washington and I hope he plays with a huge chip on his shoulders. Too bad he doesn't have a great receiving corp. Zach Miller will probably be his best friend by the 2nd half in Sunday's game. I'm partial to the guy, but I see Darren McFadden having a breakout year. The defense will be good with rookie Rolando McClain at linebacker. Nmadi Asomugha is probably the best overall defensive player in the league. 7-9. The end.
4. Denver Broncos
I despise Josh McDaniels. He is a simple carbon copy of Bill Belichick and none of his players seem to like him. The Broncos are a terrible football team and it will show. Kyle Orton is not a good quarterback. Tim Tebow is not going to be a good quarterback in the NFL. I know that if a lot of people read this, I would probably be burned alive for writing that. Broncos go 5-11. At best.
Tune in tomorrow for my NFC predictions.