NFL 2009 Predictions
The following review is a careful consideration developed using the finest research available, thoughtful analysis and logic, and an ample amount of wishful thinking, but surely we invite our readers to compare our predictions to the big shots like Peter King, Chris Mortensen, and anybody's cousin or brother-in-law who claims to know the NFL better than any of them and see who's the smartest when February rolls around. The real genius, invariably, is the dude who makes good on a real off the wall pick, the Cinderella fellah. Our weekly predictions over the past few seasons have been between 67% and 70%. We'll stake our case on that.
We’re homers and want to see the Ravens win this division which is a possibility; however, the Steelers still rule until somebody beats them and what a difference it would make if the Ravens could beat the Steelers in at least one of their matchups this year. There’s another wrinkle; however, the schedule throws the Steelers an advantage based on the two teams they face based on last year’s strength of schedule finish. The Dolphins and Titans finished in first place, thus those are the teams the Steelers face. Who do the Ravens get? The Colts and the Patriots. Few think the Dolphins will be as strong as they were last year. Further, the Titans and Dolphins are teams the Ravens can whack. How well have they played against Indianapolis and New England? The battle for the bottom suggests Cleveland will finish last. Eric Mangini (or is it Man-Genius?) does some inexplicable things like not naming who his starting quarterback for the season is going into mid-week before their first game. Be real, does the opposing team really care if it’s going to be Brady Quinn or Derek Anderson? So it’s finally Brady Quinn. Either one of them will get the old ass whoopin’. The Cincinnati Bengals have talent. They also have zero chemistry and lots of problem players whose rap sheet has more details than their stat sheets.
Some suggest Houston is ready for the big time, but we see this division as being between the Titans and Indianapolis with Jacksonville in the cellar. The Colts are aging and need to re-solidify in spots. The loss of Albert Haynesworth will seriously hurt the Titans’ defense. Neither team has made a move to gain a clear advantage over the other. Meanwhile, deep in the heart of Texas, Coach Gary Kubiak is scheming on how to make the world see the Texans as something other than an overdue expansion club. If new defense coordinator, Frank Bush, can get his unit to play effectively, then the dreamers might be ready for reward.
New York Jets
They’re back!!! Yes, the New England Patriots start off with Tom Brady healthy and while they are not the overwhelming elite team of their Super Bowl runs, they are still one tight, well-disciplined unit who understand what “do your job” means. Miami and New York are rebuilding teams working to emerge from the pack, but Miami will not finish in first place and must face Pittsburgh and Tennessee as their reward. Of course New England draws Baltimore and Indianapolis. One thing’s for sure for the New York Jets, they’ll be full of a lot more surprises with Rex Ryan leading the show. He brings a hungry Bart Scott and Jim Leonard as his defense disciples from Baltimore to help design their version of organized chaos. Mark Sanchez leads the offense, inexperienced but hungry. For Miami, 2009 could be a reality check with their tougher schedule and that they will be nobody’s surprise this year. How can Bill Parcells and his lieutenants assure their fans that the team is still moving in the right direction even if they don’t finish as well as they did in ’08? The “Fish” are a rebuilding team. They’re heading in the right direction. Considering they had just barely missed going 0-16 in 2007, the critics should not be too tough on them. Buffalo is a sympathetic team. It’s one of the NFL’s smallest markets playing in an obsolete stadium without the revenue generators of the modern venues most teams enjoy. Ralph Wilson, their owner, is one of the real good guys in the game who in his 90’s is running out of time to realize his dream of a Super Bowl win. They brought Terrell Owens in to add some sizzle on offense but the spark Owens provides could burn their house to the ground. Even when he’s trying to behave himself he creates a bad aura. For the loyal loving Buffalo fans, it certainly creates a sense of paranoia of what lies ahead after Ralph Wilson is gone with one home game in Toronto again this year.
This is the weakest division in the AFC for sure. San Diego wins by default. The once proud Broncos fired coach Mike Shannahan and traded away quarterback, Jay Cutler, now have a coach who looks like he’d be carded at the local saloon and Brandon Marshall in full flameout mode who has no room for any misbehavior having gone way over the line in training camp and the possibility of being one bad scene in public or with another woman he thinks is a punching bag before getting kicked out of the league for a long time. How quickly a team noted for discipline and stability has fallen to pieces, but the Broncos do have Kansas City and Oakland beneath them. What hope is there for Kansas City with an injured quarterback and offensive coordinator fired right before the start of the season? Oakland, well Al Davis sure doesn’t know how to build a team the way he used to. They’re a mess.
Baltimore and Tennessee look like the likely wildcards assuming they don’t win their divisions. Houston, Miami, and the New York Jets are the long shots.
Three out of four ain’t bad? The one thing is for certain, the Detroit Lions will finish in dead last. It’s reasonable to pick any of the three remaining teams to win the division and possibly be the NFC Super Bowl representative.
The case for Minnesota is that they were darned close to being playoff ready last year and Brett Favre teamed up with their receiving corps and Adrian Peterson possibly the best runner in the business could give the Vikings just the right formula to be a killer team this year. Their defense is pretty solid too.
The Packers were perhaps an interception away from the Super Bowl in 2007. Aaron Rodgers is coming into his own as the heir to Brett Favre. The Cheese Heads are a good, well-balanced team ready to begin their next era.
The Chicago Bears have one of the league’s best defense, but the rap on “Dah Bears” has long been the lack of a top notch quarterback. Jay Cutler should answer that question. If Devin Hester can develop into the wide receiver he has shown the potential to become, Chicago could be nasty.
For folks who think the NFL is too hooked on parity, look at the NFC South. No team is all that good. No team is all that bad. It looks like the Carolina Panthers have the edge on talent, but hasn’t that been said quite often in recent years? No one would have seen Atlanta playing as well as they did last year. Will reality set in or do they have something to build on? New Orleans was a team hitting its peak a couple years ago, but they’re backsliding now. How much magic can Drew Breeze and Reggie Bush put into their offense? Tampa Bay got rid of coach, John Gruden. They’ve been trying to rebuild a winning team since their Super Bowl win in January, 2003. Can Carolina hold it together or fall by the wayside as under achievers once again?
No division draws the media attention the NFC East does, and one could make a case for any team in this division to finish first or last, though in all honesty, we don’t see the Redskins in the mix. From there, it’s “How ‘bout them Cowboys?” Well, how about them? This is a team that will be showing off its billion dollar plus new crib, the new fancy stadium where punters can routinely hit the giant HD scoreboard display hanging from the ceiling. The challenge to get in and advance in the playoffs is daunting for the ‘Boys. Recent history shows a dreadful record after Thanksgiving. The clubhouse should be calmer without Terrell Owens stirring up a mess, but is Tony Romo for real? He still has a long way to go before he is proven as a winning quarterback. Coach Wade Phillips is on thin ice. He’s a fine coordinator but has never delivered as a head coach.
So who is really in the driver’s seat, Philadelphia who played horribly up to Thanksgiving last year but then moved on to the conference championship game or the New York Giants who looked unstoppable until late in the season when they just fell apart? Philadelphia has as strong defense but a few holes on offense. No one knows what the Michael Vick acquisition means other than a lot of angry dog lovers. How much can Donovan McNabb take with all the distractions? He could be the Rodney Dangerfield of NFL QB’s. The Giants have shed some of the pieces that helped them win the Super Bowl but their receiving corps is left shaky especially with Plaxico Burress heading for jail.
Arizona returns most of its Super Bowl team with more experience and confidence. They should be stronger this year. Seattle will attempt to regain respectability with son of Mora as their head coach. The 49er’s have to be reeling from the hold out from #1 draft pick Michael Crabtree. Coach Mike Singletary will be nursing a team that simply hasn’t had much to work with since its glory days. 2009 will be pivotal in determining if they are rebuilding into a contender or falling into the category of a mediocre organization. That leaves St. Louis as the cellar dwellers. There sure isn’t much to hope for when the Rams were looking at Kyle Boller substituting for Marc Bulger though it appears Bulger is cleared to start the season. St. Louis has not turned the corner since their “greatest show on turf” team got old. By now, the rebuilding should be showing a competitive team on the field. They have not turned that corner yet.
Green Bay, New York Giants
The Green Bay Packers look like the number one choice with the New York Giants second. The Chicago Bears and Atlanta Falcons are in the picture. Perhaps the Cowboys have a shot but somehow there is just too much self destruct in that unit.
Sorry, we’re homers so we just can’t pick against the Ravens. How about a battle of the Birds with the Ravens beating the Eagles? This is the advantage of being an amateur blogger.
The Baltimore Ravens