Here we go. Its kinda long, but hopefully you guys like it. Brief preview: You'll like how it ends!
2009 NFL Season Predictions
A few notes before I start. I have tried to be as unbiased as possible. Sure, my overtly optimistic view of both the Colts and the Raiders may be very biased, but other than that, I think I have been fair to all teams. Secondly, I am not putting out the disclaimer that (if everyone stays healthy) as this is the NFL, people get hurt. I will only assume that every major QB stays healthy except for one, as there is always one major QB that gets hurt every year and screws his teams chances – this year, it will randomly be Phil Rivers. Anyway let’s begin.
1.) New England 12-4 (3)
2.) Buffalo 8-8
3.) Miami 6-10
4.) New York 5-11
Analysis: For all the crap I give New England, they are still a very good team and the class of the division. They are only not better since I can’t assume a 32 year old QB can come back from a MCL/ACL tear, when a 25 year old couldn’t (Palmer), and that defense, especially with the loss of Seymour, is untested. Guys like Vrabel, Bruschi, Harrison, Seymour, they were old but they were special. As for the other teams. Buffalo has quietly a very nice, young defense. They have TO, who has shown that at least in year one he produces nicely. Miami was nowhere near a true 11-5 team last year. They will fall. The Jets are starting an untested rookie with limited COLLEGE experience. Their defense will take time to adjust to the Rex Ryan D, and they simply lack offensive playmakers.
1.) Pittsburgh 13-3 (2)
2.) Cincinnatti 10-6 (6)
3.) Baltimore 9-7
4.) Cleveland 3-13
Analysis: This is a power division at the top. Pittsburgh is probably the most undervalued defending champ ever. They are returning 20 of 22 starters, and there is a case that the two they replaced were upgrades (especially Timmons). That running game can only improve with Mendenhall returning. They have the best D, they have the best crunch-time QB, they are loaded. Call me a sucker for buying the positive energy coming out of Cincinnatti. When healthy, Palmer is a top-5 QB, Chad had one of the greatest runs with Palmer from 04-07. Chris Henry seems to have gotten over his problems of carrying illicit materials on his person. Even more stunning, they were a top-12 defense last year. I’ll buy it. Baltimore has not had consecutive 10 win seasons since 00-01. It will continue. They still are a very good team, but Flacco will take a micro-step back, and Rex Ryan’s loss will hurt for the first year. The Brown are a mess, and they still don’t have a true QB. Not much to say there. Maybe they should stop hiring Belichick and his protégés.
1.) Indianapolis 13-3 (1)
2.) Houston 12-4 (5)
3.) Tennessee 9-7
4.) Jacksonville 3-13
Analyisis: Why shouldn’t Indy win 13 games. They won 12 last year with Manning hobbling for a half, a makeshift running game because of them playing musical chairs in the O-line. Even their defense has injuries. I believe that Caldwell will be a Seifert like presence, where he keeps running the same ship. This team has improved in nearly every area, and with Gonzo, and some of the LB and DB’s taking a step up, this team should likewise improve. Houston is probably the most underrated offense out there. Matt Schuab was only injured as the result of an illegal hit. When he’s there, they have the best O in the NFL. They are the new greatest show on turf in the wa injured as the result of an illegal hit. When he’s there, they have the best O in the NFL. They are the new greatest show on turf in the way they move the ball all over the field, and are turnover prone. I see them essentially as the 2003-04 Colts. Both of those teams won 12 games. So do they. Without Haynesworth, the Titans take a step back, as I cannot simply trust Kerry to play well again. As for Jax, Del Rio seems to have lost that locker room, and a team with a banged-up MJD, and a quickly becoming bad defense, is just bad in the NFL’s best division.
1.) Oakland 10-6 (4)
2.) San Diego 7-9
3.) Kansas City 5-11
4.) Denver 2-14
Analysis: As I said before, I’m saying Rivers gets hurt for some period of time. LT will continue his decline. For all the talk, that team needed miracles (plural) to make it to the playoffs. Oakland has improved. They now have a legit left side of the line. They have a great running game. Seymour can only help their biggest weakness, and the rest of the division (other than SD, is a joke). Also, JaMarcus is better than what most people believe. Kansas City and Denver are jokes, as are any teams with a Belichick disciple. Denver lost their best player, and did nothing to better a ridiculously bad defense. KC is just a run of the mill below average team. Also, can the top four teams (NE, PIT, IND, SD) really all win the division? I say no, and SD is the most inconsistent of the four.
1.) New York 12-4 (2)
2.) Philadelphia 11-5 (5)
3.) Washington 7-9
4.) Dallas 6-10
Analysis: Back in July, I would have reversed the top two. Since then, Philly lost Jim Johnson, Stewart Bradley, and gained Michael Vick. On the other hand, New York is a team that won 12 games last year, lost Plax, but vastly improved their Defense. They got Canty, Boley and Bernard, and got Osi back from injury. That front four rotation is sick. This is a great, great team. Philly is still good enough, with enough playmakers on both sides to be a good but not great team, and with the depth in the division lessened, that should be enough. Washington has no offense. They were pathetic at the end of last year. With their defense improving with Orakpo and Haynesworth, and their offense worsening, as Campbell seems like a section eight, they are the same team. Dallas will fall apart. Romo did at the end of last year, that defense is overrated, they lost TO, and they seemed to quit on Wade.
1.) Green Bay 13-3 (1)
2.) Chicago 10-6 (6)
3.) Minnesota 6-10
4.) Detroit 4-12
Analysis: Green Bay is an excellent team. They are essentially the same team, if not better, than the 13-3 version of 2007. Rodgers is an improvement over Favre from that year, Ryan Grant came on on the end of the last year. Their defense seemed to seamlessly adjust to the attack 3-4, as they have the personnel to play it, especially since BJ Raji got to them. They have tons of DBs, and good special teams. Chicago was a 9-7 without Cutler. They got Cutler, and the rest of the team has stayed the same. Their defense is finally healthy, and I would not be shocked if they beat my expectations. Favre was a mess last year for NYJ, and there is no reason to believe he will play better now that he is on a team in a better division. For all the talk, Peterson is fumble prone, and with Favre’s penchant for INT’s they will be a turnover machine. Also, I feel like sooner or later the Williams wall will be suspended. The Lions cannot be that bad. I like Schwartz as a coach, and Stafford, Smith and Calvin are a good young trio.
1.) New Orleans 10-6 (4)
2.) Carolina 9-7
3.) Atlanta 7-9
4.) Tampa Bay 4-12
Analysis: Let me apologize, New Orleans is probably the best O in the league. That defense should also slightly improve under Williams, but not much, as Gregg is highly overrated, but still effective. It is a tough division, and they have tough outer games, so its hard to give them a great record. Carolina overachieved last year, and stayed unsustainably healthy last year. They are still a good team, but like Baltimore, just not good enough this year. Atlanta, like Miami, was a smoke and mirrors 11-5 team. The addition of Gonzalez should offset the impending Turner injury, but Ryan was overrated last year. In big games, he was outplayed, and that defense has a huge lack of playmakers on defense. Tampa is a team that is not as bad as some say. Remember, until the day that Monte announced his retirement, they were 9-3. However, they are QBed by Leftwhich, have no good receiver and an old defense.
1.) Seattle 11-5 (3)
2.) Arizona 9-7
3.) St. Louis 6-10
4.) San Francisco 4-12
Analysis: Seattle was comically injured last year. When healthy, they are the class of the division. Now, with TJ (a vastly underrated pickup, as he is by far the best weapon Matt has ever had) in the fold, that offense should get back to at least the 2007 level. In 2007, they were a good but not great team at 10-6. This is a similar team, and Aaron Curry should make them better. Arizona is down because that happens to every team that loses the Super Bowl. Kurt Warner cannot be healthy again. It can’t happen, it never has at his age. The other two teams are nondescript. I think the Singletary factor will wear off, as the rah-rah coach never works longterm in the NFL. St. Louis should rebound with an improved O-Line and Bulger’s not being sacked a million times.
Wild Card Weekend
Houston beats Oakland – too much offense, beats an Oakland team that is the perfect example of just happy to be there.
New England beats Cincinnatti – They never lose home playoff games, and I’ll take my chances with them here. Although I think it will be a shootout, and Cincy can shred that D, but so can Brady.
Philadelphia beats New Orleans – This was a very underrated game three years ago, and should be a good shootout. New Orleans and Philly are speed offenses, so the dome will help create a chaotic game.
Seattle beat Chicago – I don’t think a good Seahawk team will lose in the best current home-field in the NFL. Not to a team with its QB playing its first playoff game.
Pittsburgh beats New England – Great defense beats great offense. I don’t think New England, a track star team, can go into Heinz and beat a defense that has every reason to be better than last year.
Indianapolis beats Houston – We own Houston in Indy. That shouldn’t change. We can control Houston’s O just enough to put up points. This will be another shootout, and Peyton never loses shootouts in the playoffs (except to Billy Volek).
Green Bay beats Philadelphia – The Pack is just better. They have the better offense, and the have the better defense. They have the DBs to control the spread of Philly, and stifle the already skittish running game.
New York beats Seattle – I wanted to pick one upset, but I don’t think Seattle can fly cross-country and beat the Giants in what would probably be the last game at Giants Stadium. The Giants won’t lose off a bye two years in a row.
Indianapolis beats Pittsburgh – The Colts have the perfect team to beat Pittsburgh. They can get pressure on a suspect line without blitzing, which Ben kills. They have the ball control offense that can beat that defense. It should be a colossal battle, much like the Baltimore game three years ago, but the Colts will exact revenge for the Bettis game.
Green Bay beats New York – Green Bay gets revenge for the 2007 title game. Rodgers and that offense can pass its way, with its great YAC ability, around a great front seven. The Giants offense can run, but will be very overmatched in the passing game. Should be a good 20-17 type chessmatch of a game.
Super Bowl XLIV
Indianapolis beats Green Bay – Indianapolis is Green Bay, but with a better defense. Defense has won championships every year in recent memory (except arguably 2006). They will be able to force GB into FG, and will play the ball control O that won them over the Bears. The Colts will join Pittsburgh with two titles in the last five years.