Thursday, 8 September 2011

100% Unscientific NFL 2011 Predictions

With a new season kicking off tonight, it's time to bust out with our, or rather my bold and completely totally wrong predictions for the final outcomes! I'll preview my thoughts on each division race and list the teams I believe will play for all the marbles in the Super Bowl on February 5th in indianapolis. One guy who probably won't be on the field that day is Peyton Manning as it sadly looks like it could be coming to the end of the string for he and his Colts. But! Let's not count them out yet. Myself and Chris will also be resuming our annual contest picking against the line and those will be revealed later too. Spoiler alert! We both like the Packers.

Predictions after the jump.

Unfortunately, especially given how they've repeatedly screwed me over in multiple Super Bowls now, it's hard to look past the Steelers in this division. They are bringing back most of their team and while some might legitimately point to the aging factor, I just don't see where the competition is going to come from. I'm not a Joe Flacco believer, he always comes up small against Pittsburgh and that's a team itself which is not adding much quality youth. There seem to be a lot of people on the Cleveland bandwagon but that's another team I just don't see it with. Colt McCoy is gutty but that's about it. There's no way in hell Peyton Hillis pulls off last years performance a second time and they lack playmakers on defense. The Bengals do have some interesting options on defense but will be limited by an inexperienced offense. They're one to look out for next year though.

1 - Pittsburgh Steelers - 12-4
2 - Baltimore Ravens - 8-8
3 - Cleveland Browns - 6-10
4 - Cincinnati Bengals - 5-11

The patriots are no-brainer favorites. Some like the Jets to roll but I definitely don't and most of my concerns rest with the quarterback. I just don't think he's very good at all and the luck of his defense masks many of his deficiencies. Pundits who get paid by the same agent or whatever the deal is to defend him point out he has performed well in playoff games but I think that's as bogus as the accusation that Peyton Manning crumbles in the post-season - It's all about match-ups and Sanchez has gotten lucky, lucky, lucky. That's how I feel about Rex Ryan too. There's not a single other coach with a record of sustained success over the last, well, ever who yaps the way this guy does. With the dollars they've splashed on the team and the talent they've accrued, they don't play nearly as well as they should in all phases of the game. I think the Dolphins will pip them this year with an improving defense and a tough-mindedness borne from adversity. I'd like to imagine a good year for Buffalo but that still appears to be a few years away yet...

1 - New England Patriots - 13-3
2 - Miami Dolphins - 10-6
3 - New York Jets - 9-7
4 - Buffalo Bills - 7-9

Houston is the hot pick but I will never believe it with them until I see it. They've switched defense this year from 4-3 to 3-4 which is completely baffling because all their best players on their already terrible defense were better suited to the 4-3. Rather than tearing it all down and starting anew, they should have been concentrating on improving what they had in place particularly with the very weird offseason just passed. Peyton's neck injury throws everything into doubt in this division. Reports today indicate it could be several games before he's back under center and that is a big concern. The intrigue makes me really unsure about my pick because with him I think they still pull out first place but without him? Kerry Collins is ok but Manning is special. I'm starting to like the Titans a little. After stagnating under Jeff Fisher, change came... but not too much change! A fresh but familiar atmosphere could propel a team that's always been tough past their very soft division rivals. About a month ago, I liked the Jaguars as a dark horse division winner but pre-season has seen one disaster after another hit Jacksonville, with the collpase of their defense, injuries and the ironically stunning release of David Garrard. Maybe next year?

1 - Tennessee Titans - 9-7
2 - Indianapolis Colts - 8-8
3 - Houston Texans - 8-8
4 - Jacksonville Jaguars - 6-10

Like the AFC North, there is only one team in contention as far as I am concerned. On paper, the Chargers are far better than every other team in this division. While that was true last year as well, I don't envision lightning striking twice. If the Raiders hadn't lost three key players I would have quite liked them as well. As it is, I think they will still continue to have success against their division rivals and claim second spot. The quarterbacks of the other two teams are often praised but I just don't get the love at all. Matt Cassel is a complete fraud, he makes Mark Sanchez look like Roger Staubach!That entire Chiefs team feels like it is built on a house of cards and with a tough schedule it's overdue for collapse. As for the Broncos, various pundits like them citing "Hey, with Kyle Orton they have a chance!" What a damn moronic argument. Are they forgetting he was their QB last year as well when he won 3 and lost 10 games and played like crap? The love of Orton has more to do with the hate and jealousy directed at a certain other player who they all said would take several years to develop but are already writing off as a failure.

1 - San Diego Chargers - 11-5
2 - Oakland Raiders - 9-7
3 - Denver Broncos - 6-10
4 - Kansas City Chiefs - 5-11

Frankly I find them insufferable in their current state but the Green Bay Packers are still the team to beat here. Returning practically the entire team that lay a beat down on pretty much everyone they ran into except the Bears, I expect the stability to serve them well in an unusual year. The Bears also returned the same team but they just seem a little creaky in all the wrong places which is a shame because I'd like to see them win it again just to stick it to all the haters. The make-up of their team reminds me of the Vikings last year. Matthew "If he can stay healthy" Stafford is due a big year. He has all the weapons, all the talent and the defense seems serviceable. It's worth remembering though that the last time the Lions went 4-0 in the pre-season, they finished the regular season 0-16... Minnesota are an ok team but I think they are outclassed. Donovan Mcnabb is certainly not an adequate solution to their QB quandary. The coach also seems a little wishy-washy to me.

1 - Green Bay Packers - 11-5
2 - Detroit Lions - 10-6
3 - Chicago Bears - 7-9
4 - Minnesota Vikings - 7-9

The Eagles strike me as one of those bandwagons that's overflowing with riders and is about to tip over. The way they laid down against the Packers in the playoffs was embarassing and I suspect that teams will have figured out how to deal with Vick. Their running game is unimpressive and their receiving options are rather finesse. I don't think they are significantly better than the rest of the division and they have a huge target painted on their backs by the media attention. All in all, I do not like it. With Tony Romo back in the fold, I like a re-energized Dallas to return to the top of the table. I also think the Redskins have a shot with their defense. It has to come off for them eventually, right? The Giants are like the Jaguars who are like the Titanic. It has been one calamitous accident after another for them recently and it's tough to buy their stock.

1 - Dallas Cowboys - 10-6
2 - Washington Redskins - 9-7
3 - Philadelphia Eagles - 8-8
4 - New York Giants - 6-10

New Orleans seem to have a cake schedule that should allow their well put together squad to claim a very high NFC seed. Defending division champs Atlanta are ok, but there is just nothing special about them. All aspects of their team are well rounded, nothing is outstanding. Teams like that which hit the heights one year are destined for a fall the next. Tampa Bay is an improving team with a real smart QB, something that can't be said for the Panthers. In their position, you almost have to do what they did but Cam Newton is a proven knucklehead. The bottom feeder in the NFC South has a history of bouncing back strong the next year but  I'm not convinced he can get the job done.

1 - New Orleans Saints - 12-4
2 - Tampa Bay Buccaneers - 9-7
3 - Atlanta Falcons - 8-8
4 - Carolina Panthers - 4-12

Kevin Kolb is not the kind of QB who can come in and change the fortunes of a team. The Cardinals may get lucky but their success would be similar to the Chiefs of last year - all false hope and luck - being in the right division at the right time. I can't put my faith in a situation like that. To me the clear favorites are the St. Louis Rams. The quality of their play was not great last year but there was a structure clearly in place, one I think they can improve upon as time goes by. The Seahawks are tough to judge. They have some nice pieces but they're going nowhere with Tarvaris Jackson. As for the 49ers... worst team in football hands down. Jim Harbaugh is the next big overhyped college coach. As with the Houston Texans, I will believe it when I see it with him.

1 - St. Louis Rams - 8-8
2 - Seattle Seahawks - 6-10
3 - Arizona Cardinals - 6-10
4 - San Francisco 49ers - 3-13

Give me the San Diego Chargers to beat the Packers. Call it a gut feeling.


Home Team listed in CAPS
(*) = Line Differential

Saints (+4) at PACKERS

Chris picks: Packers
I pick: Packers

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