Every year, Steve and I and a group of others used to exchange emails with our predictions (a forum that eventually evolved into Packergeeks). Last year, I nailed a couple divisions and was horrendous in picking some others.The difference this year is that these picks will be more public and then archived at Packergeeks for all to scrutinize. We stress accountability here and invite trash talking and taunting if we’re way off! Hopefully if Steve gets a break from covering the silliness that is a political convention (sorry, editorial there), he will weigh in with his picks.
1) New England Patriots – The Patriots were very good last year. They are winners, they have a brilliant coach and they have Tom Brady. It is a very good formula. But I’m not sure they are that great anymore. Last year, they rolled on some impressive momentum, but this year, I expect the Pats to fall back to the pack. The AFC East race this year will tighten as the Patriots will find playing divisional foes more challenging this year than last – especially on the road. (However, if Belichick’s latest cheating plan of simply dressing up as a back-up QB for the opposing team and standing next to their Offensive Coordinator to steal plays works out, they may go undefeated). 11-5.
2) Buffalo Bills – The time is right for Buffalo to rise up. Charles Howell III, or I mean Dick Jauron, is a good coach and I believe this team will rally around him to be more successful than most imagine. They will also rally for the city of Buffalo as it faces a hostile takeover by Toronto (w/help from the NFL?). As a small market team fan, I would be really ticked off if Buffalo loses it’s team. I know the economics of the situation and they are compelling and totally in favor of Toronto, but it just wouldn’t be right. Trent Edwards will surprise this year, Lee Evans will continue to shine under the radar and Marshawn Lynch will continue to ummm, run people over. This is a good team that will fight for the playoffs this year. 9-7.
3) New York Jets – With Favre, I expect the Jets to compete. I will be surprised, however, if Favre makes it through this season without injury. Not only is he not in good shape, but he’ll have to play Vince Wilfork, Teddy “I love to jump on the pile late and then hold you down for no reason” Bruschi and the dirty Pats 2x this year – Wilfork is a guy who has probably already thought about how he can illegally hurt Favre and many others this season and come away with just a small fine for causing massive injury (see JP Losman last year)…jackass. Anyway, I can see Thomas Jones having a big year, Coles and Cotchery too, the Jet tight ends collectively contributing and their defense emerging. 9-7.
4) Miami Dolphins – With Pennington in the fold, it is difficult for me to put them here at the bottom because they might go undefeated. I’m serious, ok, not really, but between Pennington and Ricky Williams, Miami could surprise a few unsuspecting opponents. Pennington’s presence along with Parcells brings the team up from laugher status to at least competitive status. (By the way, I just can’t see Parcells sitting up there watching games and NOT giving Coach Sparano advice here and there. I’ll bet eventually, it will be a story that Parcells is starting to annoy Sparano during games. By the way, Parcells is a great example of how winning can turn people blind to personality…what an unpleasant seeming dude). I can see Ricky Williams quietly ending up with fairly nice stats for the season if he stays healthy – may not be a bad mid-round fantasy pick-up. Many might consider this a stretch, but I see Miami flirting with .500. 6-10.