That’s right, it’s time to engage in the fall smackfest and make predictions guaranteed to be wrong the second the blog posts. Engage in the color, the pageantry, and the God-awful misplaced prognostication every Friday during football season! This week: picking all 32 teams. My football arrogance and undermining idiocy knows no bounds.
So why bother? Because football is the great collective online water-cooler. I don’t play Fantasty, don’t even know how to score it, but I respect teams and how they function. And one of my real estate abilities is to look for and identify actionable patterns. Some of the patterns in THE NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE (that would be the Phil Simms-voice, people):
- You build in the draft, not in free agency
- Good coaches are more important than great quarterbacks
- Playmakers are more important on the defensive-side of the ball
- Conventional Wisdom in football and real estate is something nice and friendly to cling to when you don’t know the real answers to a question. And it’s usually wrong.
- San Diego will never win a Super Bowl. Because.
- By the way, unless you’re reading in Hebrew, most people read from left to right, so just this once, I will put the AFC WEST as the first of the division picks since the Left Coast gets no respect or love from the media-heavy East Coast. I dare say no American sport is more media-focused, and therefore, more East Coast-centric than THE NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE. So any hype or hyperbole you hear about the East Coast teams? The Jets are merely a reflection of the media-fixation.
1.) Chargers (13-3). The Chargers could have Norv Turner be Norv and the over-rated Ryan Matthews piddle his way through the year and still win 11-12. They are a loaded team. But I still see them losing on home field in one round in January. 2.) Denver (8-8). Every year a team improves their win-total by five games and Denver is as good a candidate as anyone. They will be much more competitive due to their potential top-ten defense, but lack depth to win more then eight in the war of attrition that is THE NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE. Thank goodness the season stayed at 16 games. For now. 3.) Oakland Raiders (7-9) I would not be surprised to see the Raiders steal an opener from Denver on Monday night and start out strong due to their running game and overall team speed. But passing their defensive holes are many and teams will figure them out. Poor Hue Jackson is such a great cheerleader for the Raider-way, and yet it’s easy to see him as another team’s coordinator next year. 4.) KC Chiefs (3-13) Yes, I hate the Chiefs and that influences my pick, but this looks like another failed experiment at the Patriot-way. There is no depth behind Matt Cassell and Brian Waters is now a Patriot. They have two major prima donna do-nothings as wideouts and if they get behind, their best attack, the run, is neutralized. Add to that a brutal schedule.
Indianapolis Colts (8-8): this is the most overrated division in football, especially if (or likely with) Peyton on the sideline. There is no quick recovery or guaranteed timeline on neurological issues and Peyton’s injury is to his cervical nerves. He’ll be back this year, but not before the damage is done. Kerry Collins couldn’t help a team with Chris Johnson last year… how the junk will he help a team with this running attack? Look for the Colts however to be dangerous when it counts in December and January. Houston Texans (7-9) This is a team others will adjust to. It must be maddening to be a Texans fan because realistically they could win or lose any week of the year. They have the studs on the offense to beat the Packers, and playmakers on defense to embarrass the Steelers, but rarely are they ever on the same page in the same game. The big question is this: will Mike Shanahan dump his son to hire Kubiak as his offensive coordinator in Washington next year? Jacksonville Jaguars (7-9) plucky, just not very good. Jacksonville has the advantage of always being overlooked and that is good for three wins a year. But they have nothing to build from and no destination to organize their team around… other than maybe Los Angeles. Tennessee Titans (3-13). Oops. You drafted Jake Locker 8th overall this year and are in the Andrew Luck sweepstakes this year. They don’t have a culture to believe in which allows Chris Johnson to be a huge distraction. When you’re behind 14 in the third quarter, the best running back in the league has a hard time getting to 1200 yards.
Baltimore Ravens (12-4): Good luck beating the Steelers three times in one season, but I expect them to sweep the regular season. Will they have it when it counts? Nope. Pittsburgh Steelers (11-5): bound to be injured, no real running game, too much reliance on Big Ben to throw it around… just get them in the playoffs as a written-off team and look out. Cleveland Browns (8-8): in it until the end, but what could be worse for a team than your lunch-pail 255 pound running back on the cover of Madden 2012? Is there any worse fate to a player’s health? This is a guy who once shredded his hamstring making a catch. Cincinnati Bengals (1-15). The temptation to say 0-16 is there, but I love reading about these guesses that they’ll improve once Carson Palmer decided to come back. Are you serious? Come back to this disaster?
New England Patriots (12-4) Now see, I could see Randy Moss coming back to be a Pat. New Jersey Jets (10-6) A great wild card team. Strangely weak in the front seven. Better and more dangerous offensively than last year, thinner with less depth defensively. Buffalo Bills (9-7). I have no idea how Ryan Fitzpatrick and a decent offense could be viewed as inferior to Chad Henne and the Miami Dolphins (5-11) with their terrible offense. Note to the AFC East: Double cover Brandon Marshall and jam him at the line of scrimmage. He’s a big wuss with a temper in the first five yards.
Wild Card Round: New England over New York. Pittsburgh over Indy. Second Round: Pittsburgh over San Diego. New England over Baltimore. Third Round: Pittsburgh over New England
Arizona Cardinals (10-6) Kevin Kolb is a good quarterback and Larry Fitzgerald will actually live up to his contract. St. Louis Rams (10-6): It’s not like Sam Bradford is going to get worse, but I do see them on the outside looking in come playoff time. Seattle Seahawks (5-11) Remember that fan-created earthquake you experienced in the Wild Card round last year? Yeah. Remember that. Savor that. I give Pete Carroll another year, tops. San Francisco 49ers (2-14). Oh, now we see why Harbaugh took that job. It’s vaguely Jimmy Johnson, 1988 isn’t it? Leave college for a sexy pro program, have a terrible first year, but through the draft you build a dynasty? Might actually work. This has to be one of the three likely Andrew Luck destinations in 2012.
New Orleans (12-4) This is why St. Louis ends up on the outside looking in. These guys will have a hard time losing outside their own division (and Lambeau). Atlanta Falcons (12-4) possibly a better team than the year before, but for the kings’ ransom they gave up for Julio Jones, they need to be 14-2 and unstoppable. I don’t think they are. You can’t be nicknamed “Matty Ice” or considered an elite quarterback until you do a thing in the playoffs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (11-5) Josh Freeman might be the third best quarterback in his division and the fourth best in his conference. This team is better positioned for the long haul than Atlanta. Carolina Panthers (3-13) Something about “when all you’ve known is winning your ‘amateur’ career…”
Green Bay Packers (10-6) Remember, 10-6 got them a ring last year. But they haven’t been sharp. Detroit (10-6), that’s right, Matt Stafford and Sam Bradford can tweet smack in the Wild Card Round all they like. This could be a team a draft away from a Super Bowl however. Minnesota Vikings (9-7) Donovan might win them a game, but Peterson ought to win them their other 8. Expect a gargantuan year from All-Day. Chicago Bears (6-10). I don’t know how Cutler stays healthy again through this year, or keeps his head, or Mike Martz doesn’t go Holy Martz as he is apt to do. Lots of juicy bylines out of Chicago this year, with no apparent tight ends, no apparent running game, a concrete field, Cutler, Martz, etc.
Dallas Cowboys (11-5) I’m picking this one for Gordon. I think he’s right. I think Romo will lead to several victories, they are rebuilding but doing so in a scalable way, I think they’re actually building a model of a post-lockout team similar to the way hockey teams adapted post-lockout and changed their game around. This is going to be a good team for several years. Although I’m not sold on Rob Ryan. Philadelphia Eagles (9-7) and out of the playoffs. I don’t see it. Vick is one scramble from the IR and then Kafka leads them into January? I don’t know how they juggle three possible All-Pro corners at once. Washington Redskins (7-9) win-now Mike can show progress, but not a winning record. This franchise is being built for what exactly? Mediocrity? New York Giants (5-11) I see the end of Coughlin’s reign in New York. The Matt Dodge punt to DeSean Jackson was the start last year. This is an openly dysfunctional and almost altogether unlovable team. Yeah, Herzlich is a nice story, making the team as a cancer survivor. It pretty much stops there. Steve Smith and his team record 100 catch season doesn’t have room on your team after microfracture surgery? Does anyone else see the Coughlin > BC > Herzlich parallels as at least a little fishy?
Wild Card Round: Tampa over Arizona. Atlanta gets revenge on Green Bay. Second Round: New Orleans over Tampa. Dallas over Atlanta. Third Round: New Orleans over Dallas.
Super Bowl: Pittsburgh over New Orleans.