Archive for the ‘predictions’ Category
I thought I had already posted this but I guess I had only given picks from a few divisions. So, here are my picks for 2010.
- AFC East: NE (11-5); Mia (9-7); NYJ (8-8); Buff (4-12)
- AFC North: Balt (12-4); Pitt (10-6); Cleve (8-8); Cincy (6-10)
- AFC South: Hou (11-5); Indy (9-7); Tenn (8-8); Jax (7-9)
- AFC West: KC (10-6); SD (8-8); Den (6-10); Oak (6-10)
For the Playoffs in the AFC, I have Mia (#6) over New England (#3) and Pitt (#5) over KC (#4) in the wildcard round. Then Hou (#2) over Pitt (#5) and Balt (#1) over Mia (#6). Balt edges Hou to win the AFC Championship.
- NFC East: Dal (11-5); Wash (10-6); Phil (7-9); NYG (7-9)
- NFC North: Pack (12-4); Chic (10-6); MN (7-9); Det (6-10)
- NFC West: AZ (10-6); Sea (8-8); SF (8-8); StL (5-11)
- NFC South: Atl (11-5); NO (9-7); TB (7-9); Car (5-11)
For the Playoffs in the NFC, I have Dal (#3) over Chic (#6) and Wash (#5) over AZ (#4) for the wildcard round. Then Atl (#2) over Wash (#5), Pack (#1) over Dal (#3). And finally I have the Packers over the Falcons for the NFC Championship.
Packers beat the Ravens in the Super Bowl.
Just wanted to let Packergeek readers know that I will be writing an NFL picks column and a fantasy football column for the website – dailycaller.com. It is website that covers a lot of topics, with a focus on politics, and I will write the 2 columns in their sports section.
The picks for Week 1 are up – go here to read.
Check this out from USA Today – 5 of their 8 staff writers pick the Packers to win the Super Bowl. Several of you have noted the increasing amount of positive press the Packers have received heading into the season. Lots of the expert types are picking the Pack to win the Super Bowl. Normally, I would be a bit concerned about it – will the players be able to handle the weight of expectation? will they keep their heads? and just as importantly, how will the coaching staff respond to this kind of pressure?
So far, I like the way the team has responded to this pressure. It seems the players may have been given the “OK” to simply address questions about expectations head on – instead of offering up the usual cliche crap like “we’re only focused on the Philly game”. Really, since the team regrouped this spring, it seems to me that generally, the players have not avoided questions about expectations. After the Family Night scrimmage for example, Jermichael Finley and a few others talked very directly about the expectations indicating that the team has the same expectations and the team believes they belong in the Super Bowl. McCarthy must be coaching the guys up to believe that these are not unrealistic expectations and I really like this. There seems to be a message floating around Lambeau that players/coaches ought to embrace this goal publicly rather than avoid it at all costs.
For some reason, I suspect that one guy who may be behind this head-on approach to managing expectations may be Dom Capers. I think Capers, a veteran coach who has seen a lot throughout his NFL coaching career, may be encouraging this open attitude about expectations in part because he knows on one side of the ball, he has a QB who can handle it mentally and on the other side, he has a veteran leader who can handle it mentally – and who wants it so badly (Woodson). One thing that will continue to impress people in the next 3-4 years in particular, is just how strong Aaron Rodgers is mentally. I’m not quite sure the same open approach toward expectations would have been encouraged if we had a different QB.
- Baltimore Ravens, 12-4. This is a good team. The secondary is a bit shaky and Ed Reed’s possible extended absence will not help. But overall, this team has improved since last year when it was already good. The addition of Anquan Boldin was big. Derrick Mason has been quietly amassing decent season after decent season for the Ravens over the last several years, and having a legit threat opposite him now will suddenly make this passing game quite good. Add in a rejuvenated/healthy TE Todd Heap and there is another good option. QB Joe Flacco has improved as well and to this day, in my opinion, has the best form of any QB throwing the deep ball (he may not complete all these deep passes, but they sure look good). But the guy I think we’ll all be talking about at the end of the year is Ray Rice. This guy is a monster. He is strong, has a low center of gravity coupled with huge legs and importantly, mentally he is very focused on being a great RB. I think at the end of this year, Rice will be the #1 RB in the NFL in terms of total yards gained (remember, he’s a great receiver out of the backfield too – 78 catches last year). Yes, better than Chris Johnson, Adrian Peterson and MJD.
- Pittsburgh Steelers, 10-6. Pitt at 10-6? What? Without Big Ben for 4 games? After missing the playoffs in 2009? After losing Santonio Holmes? Yes. Something happened last year that caused Pitt to get lost – to lose its identity. Troy Polamalu got hurt. It’s that simple. Polamalu is the soul of that team. Not Ben, not the defense as a whole, not Hines Ward, just Troy. He is a fantastic player whose mere presence on the field changes games. He is an intelligent player with great game sense. With Polamalu back at full strength and the eventual return of Big Ben, this team will resume its quality play. Also, I’m looking for Rashard Mendenhall to take off a bit this year (if he doesn’t get hurt). He may end up as a top 5 rusher as he will have lots of touches. I expect a couple monster games from him. And, it’s no small factor that Dick LeBeau is still running the defense in Pitt. I expect the D to be very tough to deal with especially at home. And remember, last year, Pitt managed to get to 9-7, so it’s not like they were nearly as bad as the Pitt fan-base made them out to be.
- Cleveland Browns, 8-8. What? The Cleve ahead of Cincy? I am one of few probably, who think the Mangini/Holmgren duo might end up working out. Here’s why. Eric Mangini burst onto the scene a few years ago and had some initial success. While I’m not sure I would call his initial success a fluke (he was 10-6 in his 1st season with the NYJ, playoff team), I do think it was unfortunate for Mangini because it brought the immediate weight of expectations. Now, he’s regarded as a mediocre coach (at best) and the Cleve is playing with zero expectations. And most importantly I believe Mangini, if he’s open to it, will benefit greatly from the guidance of Mike Holmgren. Mangini is still a young coach and he hasn’t had the opportunity before to work closely with a very respected NFL mind. I do believe that between Mangini/Holmgren, there is a lot of football knowledge going on. I feel about the Cleve the way I feel about Miami – with guys like Holmgren and Parcells at the helm, it’s just hard to imagine either of these teams in a state of total failure. Delhomme isn’t great but if he plays even decently, there are some weapons on offense (Cribbs, Jerome Harrison could be good, Massaquoi, TE Evan Moore – former Packer who has looked good so far, Joe Thomas helping on the line). Ok, that list isn’t that great and it’s possible the Cleve totally sucks and Mangini gets fired after 4 weeks because he can’t get along with Holmgren – but I just have a feeling they won’t be terrible this year.
- Cincinnati Bengals, 6-10. I don’t think Marvin Lewis should last past this year. He may, because the Bengals front office is weird, but he shouldn’t. Yes, the Bengals got to the playoffs last year, yes they have a legit running threat with Benson, yes they have a decent WR group now with TO in the mix, and they have 2 potential big-time talents at TE in Chase Coffman (son of Paul Coffman) and Jermaine Gresham. Ok, maybe the offense will be good. And, of course, the defense has 2 CBs who are in the discussion at least of best CB tandem in the NFL. But I don’t see it this year for Cincy. I’m fighting logic I realize by projecting the Cleve to finish ahead of Cincy, the NFC North division winners from 2009. But Cincy’s home playoff loss last year to the Jets was one of the least inspiring efforts I’ve seen in years. The Jets played well to be sure, but to fold like Cincy did at home in such a big game told me all I need to know. Cincy is one major injury (Palmer, Benson, one of their CBs) away from 3-13.
- NE Patriots, 11-5 - Why? Not sure. They have some older players, they shouldn’t be that good and Belichick continues to be weird. But they always have older players, they always end up being good anymore and Belichick’s weirdness is often smart weirdness (like going for 4th downs). Borrowing from soccer’s apparent claim on the word “mercurial”, Belichick’s mercurialness hasn’t faded a bit and I can’t help but think he will mercurially help the Patriots achieve success once again. In particular, the Brady/Moss/Welker trio will remain brutally difficult to defend and some may be surprised when the Laurence Maroney/Fred Taylor duo ends up being shockingly productive. Watch out for the Pats this year.
- Miami Dolphins, 9-7 – Most will be shocked that I’ve put the Jets in at least 3rd place in this division. But the Dolphins have been quietly solid since coach Tony Sporano has taken over. He’s a good coach who goes about things quietly, yet effectively. They have a young group but they also have players who can just plain get the job done. The signing of Brandon Marshall was huge. Huge. This guy is good and his presence will immediately help the passing game – especially the other WRs like Davone Bess, Brian Hartline and Greg Camarillo. And I don’t see why Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown will slow down at all. Now that there is a greater threat in the passing game (especially with the emergence of Chad Henne over the last few games of last season – 4 300 yard games in a row), it stands to reason that an already potent running game could be even better. This team could be quite good.
- NY Jets, 8-8 – What? The Jets not winning the division? AW not buying the puffery surrounding Fat Ryan? Does AW predict this because of the Revis controversy? How could someone dare not believe in the Jets after their surprising ascent last year? Joey, have you ever been to a Turkish prison? A potential Revis holdout will hurt, yes, but it won’t ruin them. What will ruin them is a few setbacks. I’m envisioning a team having a seriously difficult time bouncing back from a few crucial setbacks. Rex Ryan is a coach who is so full of himself (and hot air), that I really doubt the “you should believe in yourself because I’m making you believe in yourself” approach will work this year. When he settles down some, it’s possible the Jets will settle down and be good again…in a few years. But not this year. The Jets won’t be bad and may contend for the playoffs because they do have talent. But they don’t have THAT much talent and I think people will be surprised by how good the Pats and the Dolphins are this year.
- Buffalo, 4-12 – Whenever there’s even the potential that someone like Brian Brohm, the slow-motion Brian Brohm, could start at QB, your team is hurting. Buff has some offensive talent (though both Fred Jackson and Marshawn Lynch have recently been slowed by injuries), but overall, they mostly suck. Too bad. I like the Buff and their fans and root for the team, but I just don’t think they’ll be bringing much this year at all. And hiring Chan Gailey was questionable.
- Interesting back-and-forth going on here between BJ Raji and Olin Kreutz. Not sure why Raji would necessarily initiate something like this, but one concern I have is that I don’t think Kreutz is that clean a player. While I do anticipate Raji will continue his strong play, I worry Kreutz might do something cheap after the whistle.
- Even though Jay Cutler is the only Bear QB to ever have 3 games in a row with a QB rating over over 100 (doing this earlier this season), I don’t like his prospects for this game. Outside of those 3 games, Cutler hasn’t been that good this year to say the least. With Hester out and Woodson likely locked on Cutler’s favorite target Olsen, it doesn’t look good for the Bears’ passing game.
- Lovie does beat the Packers – but his decision-making this year has been suspect.
- Matt Forte has appeared to me to be a step slower this year. I know the Bears’ O-Line has been questionable and their offensive play-calling has been shoddy, but even when he’s had openings, he just hasn’t shown the burst and decisiveness he did last year.
- I’m glad Mason Crosby claims that he hasn’t really lost any confidence. But I’m concerned a bit about the apparent fact that he doesn’t think he’s been THAT bad. He’s missed some big kicks and the concern I continue to have is that he seems extra unreliable beyond 40 yards.
- Not sure where this is coming from, but I see a huge game coming from Ryan Grant. He’s had several good games lately, but I think this may be the week he breaks some of those tackles he should be breaking. He is one too, who may just get better as the season goes on (in part because he gets more carries later in the season.
- Even though the Bears offense hasn’t exactly lit it up this year, my hope is that Capers dials up some quality blitzes because I seriously think Cutler panics when Olsen is covered.
- If Woodson is assigned to Olsen, I will be very interested to see how it plays out. Cutler locks onto Olsen more than more rookie QBs lock onto their first reads. I can’t imagine that situation will work out well for the Bears, though Olsen is pretty good. One thing we should keep an eye on is the other TE (Desmond Clark or Kellen Davis). It’s possible Cutler will dump it off to either guy if Olsen isn’t an option.
- I wouldn’t be surprised if our passing game simply overwhelms the Bears D. I can see lots of shorter passes over the middle taking advantage of what has now become a suspect Bears’ linebacking group (except Briggs).
- If the Bears D keys on Finley, it might be smart for McCarthy to have a few plays drawn up for Donald Lee or Spencer Havner in 2 TE sets. But if the Bears don’t watch Finley carefully, they’ll be in trouble.
- One thing I’ve been meaning to write about is what I’m beginning to think is a developing similarity between the Packers and the Saints. The Saints offense from week to week, seems to change the featured guys. As an opposing defense, it’s really difficult to know which guys will be featured. If Colston went nuts the previous week, he may very well do hardly anything the following week because #3 WR Robert Meacham might be up for the big game, or Devery Henderson or Jeremy Shockey or their back-up TE. They even do it at RB letting Pierre Thomas, Mike Bell and Reggie Bush take turns starring. I don’t know if this is something Sean Payton arranges before the game or if it’s because he’s just super good at making in-game adjustments. Either way, the final effect is that it’s just super difficult to know which Saints offensive players will be getting the ball, which gives the offense the wanted quality of unpredictability. Similarly with the Pack, more guys are getting involved in the offense and defenses are not sure which guys they should focus on. That’s why getting the ball to guys like Havner, Korey Hall, Jordy and James, is always helpful as it shifts the focus from the guys most consider our studs: Finley, Jennings, Driver, Grant.
- I’m always nervous playing Lovie’s Bears because I know games against the Packers are way more important to Lovie than other games. But I’m not sure he has his team still, frankly, and I think the Packers right now are playing much better. Green Bay 31, Bears 14.
- GB (11-5). I think the Packers will be good this year and could very well end up an elite team. Rodgers looks great, the o-line seems to be up to the challenge, the WRs are great, RBs are solid (though they should still have Tyrell Sutton), and the defense pretty much can’t be worse than last year. Things look good. My only caution, and I write this reluctantly, is that a few key injuries could change the outlook. Here’s to hoping Rodgers, Jennings, Pickett, Harris/Woodson and Collins all stay healthy! One thing I want to put out there is that I have very strong expectations for Ryan Grant. I read something in the offseason about Grant feeling like last year, his legs weren’t fully under him (conditioning/hamstring issue) and it cost him his burst and ability to break tackles. I actually believe this 100% because part of what made him so impressive in 2007 was his ability to run through tackles – and last year was such a huge contrast when finger-tackles were pulling him down. All reports this year indicate he’s back to his old self, and that he’s looked very good in camp. Grant to rush for 1500+, score 9 TDs or so, and have more receptions.
- MN (10-6). I know, I know, those who memorize my posts so that you can some day in the future point out my inconsistencies will be the first to tell me that I said earlier this year that the Vikes would be 12-4 if Favre plays for them. I’ve cooled on that a little bit – but mainly because I have elevated my opinions of both the Bears and the Packers making – the division games harder. This is still a good team, a solid D, the best running team in football, and now, they will have a QB with major experience. Two of Favre’s staple targets over the years have been the TE and the third-down RB – in Shiancoe and Chester Taylor, he has two quality targets. Throw in Percy Harvin and he will have at least some targets in MN. And Favre won’t be left with too many 3rds and long (I believe that is grammatically correct, not 3rd and longs), because AP will likely get positive yards on downs 1&2. One kind of scary thought I haven’t heard ANYONE talk about: what if Favre ends up having a monster year? I have not read one article/blog etc speculating re this possibility. I, and most others, tend to think it would be unrealistic, which is why we haven’t read anything about it. But, it is possible. While I laid out the conventional thinking above – saying that Favre won’t need to pass much because AP will do most of the damage – there may be a flip side. If teams consistently put 8-9 in the box to stop AP forcing Favre to throw, it’s at least possible that he’ll successfully take advantage of these relatively easy passing situations (single-coverage) and produce, no? Yes, he’s old, unwilling to learn new things, difficult in the locker-room, has a generally weak receiving targets and a poor coach, and overall is an assface for going to the Vikings, but the fact is, putting up gaudy stats isn’t exactly foreign to the man. My hope for this team is that they…um…just suck, finish 2-14 and are moved to L.A. for 2010.
- Chic (10-6). I’m nervous about Sunday’s game in part because I haven’t changed my opinion much from when the Bears announced the arrival of Jay Cutler. I think that was a very smart move by the team, a surprisingly smart move, and it will pay dividends. Cutler is very good and I think his addition brings instant variety to an offense that was fairly run-focused. Matt Forte will be good again, he’s a smart player, but he won’t be needed quite so much this year. I think WR Earl Bennett will do some damage this year. Cutler came back to Vanderbilt to throw for Bennett for Bennett’s pro day 2 years ago – and he did this a couple years after Cutler had already been in the NFL. Good friends. Bennett and Greg Olsen (Cutler’s 2nd best friend on the team) will get plenty of looks. The Bears could have some issues on defense – not sure they are capable of being the fearsome defense they once were. One hope we can all have is that Cutler’s personality/still-frat-guy-in-college-mentality might rub teammates the wrong way leading to internal fighting – like Brian Urlacher ending up calling Cutler a ***** for real.
- Det (5-11). The Lions will have their moments this year. I think Jim Schwartz may end up being a good coach. He certainly did a nice job in TN as a DC. RB Kevin Smith, WR Calvin Johnson, TE Brandon Pettigrew, LB Julian Peterson and S Louis Delmas will all have strong seasons. Stafford will have a few quality games too. Other than that, once again, not much to look forward to if you’re a Lions’ fan.
- Sea (10-6). Despite questions re the o-line, I think Seattle management has done a nice job of replenishing a weakened receiving corps – and it will make a big difference. The addition of TJ Housh from Cincy was very smart – big year for him this year, Nate Burleson is back and healthy and importantly, rookie Deon Butler could be a sneaky good additional option for Hasselbeck. One guy I’m high on is TE John Carlson – Hasselbeck loves him and so do the coaches. Jim Mora used the **** out of TE Alge Crumpler when HC in Atlanta and I expect Carlson to get similar attention in this offense. I’m not sure re the running game headed by Julius Jones, but the passing attack should be good. The Seattle defense may surprise some this year. They still have some quality LBs and secondary guys, the question may be if their d-line can step up to the challenge. I like Jim Mora as a coach generally and expect this team to be good.
- AZ (9-7). I like Ken Whisenhunt as a coach too and even think the departure of former OC Todd Haley could help this team. While Whisenhunt would be foolish to alter the offensive game plan a ton (because AZ was so dominant in the air), I’m pretty sure he will push harder than they did last year to establish the run. RB Beanie Wells may help them do just that – as Tim Hightower just didn’t seem to be the answer last year. I don’t see AZ being bad this year or having the post Super Bowl slump – I just see them being outplayed by division rival Seattle.
- SF (7-9). Tough team to figure. At one point this summer, I considered making SF my darkhorse team – the team that would cruise through their division en route to a playoff run. But I can’t fully trust the volatile Mike Singletary yet, nor can I trust QB Shaun Hill (though I think he’s the best QB there – though rookie QB Nate Davis has shown well this summer). Still, their offense has weapons in Frank Gore, now back-up RB Glen Coffee, WRs Isaac Bruce and Josh Morgan and yes, I still think Vernon Davis can be good. But it’s their defense that could do real damage this year. As a defensive-minded coach, I can see Singletary most effectively leading the resurgence of this D – led by Patrick Willis who is the real deal. If the D starts playing out of its mind and the offense controls game tempo by running it effectively, perhaps SF may end up as that sleeper team yet.
- St L(5-11). I still think Marc Bulger is good and with Steven Jackson healthy and the likelihood that the defense at least won’t be an afterthought anymore (because of HC Steve Spagnuolo), this team could be a bit more competitive this year. Still, they are probably 2-3 years away from contending for the division. Funny to think that the Rams, the Bucs and the Raiders have all been to the Super Bowl more recently than the Packers.