And this brings us to the end of the NFL preview columns. Which means that the weekly predictions begin this week, because the season begins this week. Around the nation, millions of football fans will lock themselves in front of the television, some of them lucky enough to have the NFL Network or NFL Redzone, some of them having to watch the games with commercials on CBS or FOX. I feel sorry for that bunch. I mean, think about it. The most you have is one hour of action right? So what’s the other two hours? Players standing around and commercials. How is that fun? NFL RedZone is the way to go man. Get it.
Disclaimer: NFL RedZone is not paying me to blow smoke up their ass. I just really love that freaking channel.
So we come down to the AFC South. In my head I keep thinking I already wrote about the AFC South because I already wrote about Peyton Manning. Boy, that’s going to be a weird adjustment and I’m not even a Colts fan. Good news for Colts fans – Andrew Luck is dialed in! I drafted him in all my fantasy leagues. How could I not? The kid is going to be the best rookie since Big Ben or Eli. I am guaranteeing that right now. Well, I mean I’m saying that. I have nothing to really back it up.
More on Luck in a minute. On a sour note, I’d like to thank the Browns for sucking so bad this preseason that I predicted them with one win this season. I apologize in advance to fellow Browns fans. I’d also like to point out that while DigitalDads fearless leader C.C. Chapman lives in Boston, he’s a Dolphins fan. And while I live in Tampa, I am NOT a Bucs fan. Get that through your thick skulls. I hate the Bucs. Just cause we live in the town a certain team plays in, does not automatic fans it makes. Or something like that.
Somehow improbably and on the arm of young T.J. Yates, the Texans were able to make the playoffs for the first time last season. Of course, a 7-3 start with Matt Schaub kind of helped set up Yates for moderate success. I’m not even going to mention Leinhart, damn, I just did. The Texans are looking to repeat this year, and are probably thinking that with Peyton out of the division, they might have a better chance.
Johnathan Joseph is the key to the secondary. While other teams were hunting Asomugha last season, the Texans wisely picked up Joseph. I’ll say one thing about defensive coordinator, he’s a terrible head coach. But the guy knows defense and really, that is the key to the Texans gameplan. Mario Williams is gone, and that is really going to hurt the pass rush. I’m kind of wary about the run defense as well, as they’ll be up against some strong runners in their division.
The offense is once again bolstered by a steady Matt Schaub. In the last year of his contract, it’s now or never for Schaub. I’d like to predict now, but I’m more likely to go with never. The problem isn’t going to be with Shaub, but with the receiving core. Andre Johnson, Kevin Walter and that’s really about it. There are a couple other draft picks on the depth chart, but up against a good secondary, they could easily be nullified. The Texans are going to have to hope someone steps up into the role.
Predicted Finish: 7-9
This just in – another rookie QB has been given the start! Well, technically this is Locker’s second year in the league. He was drafted after Cam Newton, in QB order, last year. Jake Locker backed up Hasselbeck, who will now be backing up Locker. Could this be another one of those “veteran saves the team” situations or will Locker have a good year? Find out this and more next time on the NFL!
I think that Locker will have a good season. Kenny Britt comes back to the team after injury, and rookie Kendall Wright should add some spark to the receiving core, giving Locker valid targets. The key to the offense of course is Chris Johnson. Last year, he fizzled real quick and had a very human season. This year, he’s apparently reconditioned himself and is in top flight condition. We’ll see. The first game out of the gate will be the indicator. If he doesn’t rush for 100 yards you’ll see him get dropped from fantasy teams.
So how about the secondary now that Chris Pope and Courtland Finnegan are gone? Well, with their first game against the Patriots, we’ll see if there is anything to be said for the secondary. I think we’ll see some shifting on defense over the first couple games as the Titans work in some rookie secondary players and try to get the matchups they want. Last year the Titans went 9-7 without much fanfare, this without Chris Johnson. I think with Chris Johnson the Titans will be surprising this year.
Predicted Finish: 11-5
Well, not much to say about this team. They won a few games last year, thanks to the Colts sucking a big fat egg. Their defense had an amazing turnaround, going from dead last in defensive efficiency in 2011 to number five overall. The defense was good against the pass and the rush and not much has changed on defense. So the Jags have that going for them. Unfortunately, while defense wins championships, offense gets you there and the Jags have a slight problem there.
Mike Mularkey comes in as head coach and he’s pretty much stripped down and replaced most of the coaching staff as well. Which means new offensive schemes for young Blaine Gabbart to learn. Gee, good thing he’s got Chad Henne backing him up (insert laugh here). MJD finally reported to camp, which is good news for the Jaguars cause he’ll be playing his ass off for a new contract.
The offense is going to feature Jones-Drew, which means he’s going to get hit a lot. Henne and Gabbart are back-ups who have found themselves as the possible starters for a team. Lucky them? Gabbart won’t last the season, neither will Henne. Maybe Carson Palmer will retire again.
Predicted Finish: 4-12
This is a while new Colts team. Chuck Pagano is the new head coach. Jim Caldwell is the new offensive coordinator. Greg Manusky is the new defensive coordinator. Marwan Maalouf is the new special teams coordinator. Manning is gone. Piere Garcon, Dallas Clark, Jeff Saturday and Joseph Addai are gone. All staples of a Colts team passed. This team is truly in year one of their rebuilding phase, so how will they fare with all this change?
Most experts are predicting the Colts might get lucky with a win or two this season. I’m thinking they might get a few more than that. Joining Andrew Luck is TE Coby Fleener, his favorite target from college. Reggie Wayne is still in the house, joined by Donnie Avery and Austin Collie. No matter which way you spin it, this team is starting from scratch. Though I think having Mewelde Moore in the backfield with Ronald Brown can’t hurt. Addai was getting old. I think he’s already been cut by the Patriots.
I think the Colts are going to do better than people think. I think the Colts are going to rack up a few surprising last second wins on the arm and professional play of Andrew Luck. I think he’s going to do for the Colts what Andy Dalton did for the Bengals last year. I think the Colts are going to surprise the fuck out of everyone and take the division. You heard it here first folks.
Predicted Finish: 11-5
NFL Week One Predictions Part One
There is one game this week, before Sunday, that I suppose I shouldn’t ignore since my column is posted on Thursday. Well, the regular column. Obviously this was posted on Tuesday.
Dallas Cowboys at NY Giants
Kicking off the season the Cowboys get to travel to face the Giants on a Wednesday night. What a weird day to start the season. The Giants will be raising some flags after their Superbowl win, so expect some pomp and circumstance before the game and probably at halftime. I’d like to say that the Cowboys can pull out a surprising win here, but I’d be lying. The Giants will be playing for another Superbowl win here, starting off the season with a win over the Cowboys will be a good step. Giants to win.