Tuesday, September 02, 2008

2008 Season NFL Predictions

Last year I began what I hoped would become an annual tradition. Making my NFL regular season and playoff predictions by going through and picking a winner in each of the 256 games played during the regular season. Following that, I determine which teams make the playoffs by handling all tie-breakers according to NFL rules. And unlike many other "professional" sports writers, I held myself accountable before the next season, taking myself to task when I f'd up, and patting myself on the back for the few correct things (like picking the Chiefs to go 4-12).

Without further ado, here are my predictions for the 2008-2009 NFL Season, berate them as you must:

NFC

NFC East

*Dallas 13-3

**Philadelphia 10-6

NY Giants 8-8

Washington 6-10

Dallas is clearly the class of this division. The high powered offense plus the mean defense means another dominant season for Jerry Jones’ squad. Meanwhile, the Iggles should be back behind D-McNabb and Westbrook. The Giants defense is too banged up to be able to drag the offense into the playoffs again. And the Redskins will have growing pains under first year coach Jim Zorn.

NFC North

*Minnesota 12-4

Green Bay 8-8

Chicago 5-11

Detroit 4-12

Minnesota should do very well this season, despite having Tarvaris Jackson at the helm. But if he plays the “Trent Dilfer” role, then the Vikes will be atop the Norris division again. Green Bay will perform decently as Aaron Rodgers gets used to leading the team, but they’ll be better next year. Chicago is slightly less abysmal with Orton at QB. Detroit … well, Matt Millen will somehow avoid being fired.

NFC South

*Carolina 11-5

**New Orleans 10-6

Tampa Bay 7-9

Atlanta 4-12

Carolina will work out some early season kinks and Delhomme will find his touch just in time to guide the Panthers well. The Saints will also be back in the mix of things with their high-powered offense and average defense. Tampa will try a few different QBs and stumble their way through a sub-par season. Atlanta may finish with the same record as last year, but they’ll be a stronger team as Matt Ryan gets his NFL education.

NFC West

*Seattle 12-4

San Francisco 6-10

Arizona 6-10

St. Louis 5-11

A piss poor division to say the least. Seattle is a solid team surrounded by mediocrity. The Hawks will follow their defense and a running back by committee routine to the top of the division. San Fran will have a steady hand in J.T. O’Sullivan, but will have enough troubles to avoid achieving success. The Cardinals are still mired in their QB controversy, and I don’t see it going away. The Rams … well, they need an overhaul at WR and QB.

Tie breaker note: MIN gets the 2-seed due to a better in-conference record than SEA; NO gets the 5-seed by virtue of a better won-lost-tied percentage than PHI in common games.

AFC

AFC East

*New England 13-3

NY Jets 9-7

Buffalo 5-11

Miami 5-11

The Pats will not finish undefeated again, an aging defense will stop that from happening. However, they’re still atop the AFC and will dominate the East. The Jets will bounce back from the garbage they fed their fans last year, but the vanilla offense led by Favre will be figured out by teams as the season goes on. Buffalo and Miami are both better than their records suggest, but each still has some bugs to work out before they can crack an 8-8 season.

AFC North

*Pittsburgh 10-6

Cleveland 8-8

Cincinnati 5-11

Baltimore 4-12

Pittsburgh wins this division, almost by default. Even with a diminished offensive line, they should win out here. Cleveland isn’t as bad as their 8-8 finish, but they won’t be in contention for the playoffs this year. Anderson’s magical ride will start to turn sour and we’ll see the rise of Brady Quinn. Cincy may or may not have Chad Ocho Cinco, depending on his torn labrum, but even with him, the defense is too weak to have much success in the AFC. The Ravens are too green on the offense and too old on the defense.

AFC South

*Indianapolis 12-4

**Jacksonville 11-5

Tennessee 9-7

Houston 7-9

The Colts have a nice strangle-hold on the South … even though they’re in the Midwest. Peyton has plenty of targets, and he’ll make use of all of them. The Jaguars like what they have on the offense, and Matt Jones may finally emerge as a solid receiver. The Titans need Vince Young to learn to throw the ball before they become a truly serious threat. Houston will need to solve its running back quartet before they can truly expect to compete for a playoff spot in the AFC.

AFC West

*San Diego 13-3

**Denver 11-5

Oakland 4-12

Kansas City 3-13

Norv Turner may just have a heart attack. Poor guy isn’t used to this success thing, but when L.T. leads your team, it’s hard not to find it. I expect Denver to have a solid season with Jay Cutler having his diabetes under control and finding rhythm with both Brandon Marshall and Tony Scheffler. Oakland’s record is tied to the health of Darren McFadden and the use of outlet receivers by JaMarcus Russell. Kansas City is just bad. Barring a return to glory by L.J., they’ll be worse than last year.

Tie breaker note: NE gets the 1 seed by virtue of a head-to-head win over SD. JAC gets the 5-seed due to a head-to-head win over DEN.

Wildcard Playoffs (winner in Italics)

Philadelphia at SeattleSeattle has had an awesome home advantage in the playoffs in recent history. That continues against the more talented Philly team.

New Orleans at CarolinaCarolina let the Saints win the regular season finale since that really wouldn’t affect their playoff stance. However, the real Carolina team shows up this time.

Denver at Indianapolis – Cutler performs remarkably throughout the season, and gives Peyton a run for his money in this match-up. Ultimately, however, the Colts are a far more complete team than the Broncos.

Jacksonville at Pittsburgh – Garrard and MoJoDro lead the way as the Steelers don’t even put up a real fight.

Divisional Playoffs

Carolina at Dallas – Another year, another playoff disappointment for Tony Romo. Marion Barber, III plays his heart out, but in the end it’ll be the two-headed rushing attack of Carolina that’ll leave T.O. in tears again.

Seattle at MinnesotaSeattle’s defensive line will put way too much pressure on Tarvaris Jackson to allow the mediocre QB to do anything other than hand the ball off. The lack of a passing game will be enough to allow Seattle to squeak by the Vikes.

Jacksonville at New England – Wow. This AFC Divisional round looks kinda similar, no? The result of this portion will look similar as well, with Tom Brady looking picture perfect in a nail-biter against the talented Jags.

Indianapolis at San Diego – This half of the AFC Divisional round, however, won’t be a repeat. Indy romps the Bolts in San Diego, setting up football’s equivalent of Nadal vs. Federer in the AFC Championship game.

Conference Finals

Seattle at Carolina – The Panthers return to the Super Bowl, this time following the lead of Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams. Delhomme likes having more than one option at WR, and guides his team past a stingy Seattle defense.

Indianapolis at New England – Tom Brady has one thing on his mind … another Super Bowl ring. Joe Cool, Jr. is up to the task and directs his less talented team to a nice victory in the frigid Massachusetts weather.

Super Bowl

Carolina vs. New England – I don’t like predicting repeats of recent Super Bowls (especially if there’s no chance of a repeated wardrobe malfunction), but I guess I’m really high on the Panthers this season. On paper, the Panthers should win this one with their strong offense against the aging Pats defense. But that won’t happen. New England makes up for it’s crappy play in the last Super Bowl and wins this one 24-20.

7 comments:

Clement said...

There is a TON to be said.

1) Impressive. Holding yourself accountable to this is AMAZING. It's also a testament to how difficult this is.

2) Joe Cool, Jr. Even I have to admit, that is a badass nickname. Did you come up with that?

3) Carolina's offense is so dependent on a QB coming back from Tommy John; nevertheless, I love the pick.

4) I like the re-matches, sorta. MJD is better for Jones-Drew though.

5) I couldn't agree more with Cleveland. I really hope you're right about Buffalo.

6) I like the solid stance with Minnesota.

7) Oh Tony Romo, will you ever win?

Fantastic work. I could say MUCH more, but I'm actually in first-block "teaching". I love having students fill out paper work.

Lata.

Paymon said...

I noticed that my comment didn't show up earlier. Here are some quick hits related to that ...

- I cringe at Dallas winning 13. I do, however, think they'll win one in the playoffs. TO will cry again after losing and America (yes, America, since Dallas is NOT America's Team) will laugh with me.

"That's my quarterback"

- Minnesota won't win 12. If they do, call me out. Shaky QB play will result in a max of 11 wins and I'm not sure they'll get that many. I have a feeling Orton will win more than 5 games. Everyone who knows me knows my completely unfounded that AP will get injured on or before Week 6. Pick up Chester Taylor in your fantasy leagues.

- I could care less about the NFC South. Any one of those 3 teams (Atlanta is not quite a team yet) can win the division. The Saints should, but they won't. Why? Chris Berman will blame it on Hurricane Katrina, but it's because they can't tackle or cover skill players.

- Seattle won't win 12. Too many ifs. Jim Zorn is out as QBs coach, Julius Jones replaces Shaun Alexander and the WRs corps is banged up. Good thing they have that stadium. The Rams won't finish last either. Chris Long may be D-ROY and Carriker will make his mark in Year 2. I feel like I need to wash my hands of that statement, because I complimented a Husker. Yeesh.

- Pittsburgh scares me. Why? Try the offensive line minus Faneca. Try the ownership fracas this offseason. This may be the weakest division in the NFL this season. Probably not though. The NFC West usually takes the spoils.

- How does the Denver Kool-Aid taste? Jake Cutler [sic] will continue to be a slinger and get more credit than he deserves he (1) gets fantasy points, (2) has never played for a good team and (3) has diabetes. Brandon Marshall will not catch 140 balls in 15 games. If he can get through the season without an arrest, then Denver may get to 11 wins.

Great work. I'll make fun of your man crush on Carolina later :)

Sum said...

Hahaha, thanks for the comments fellas.

I'm with you on the AP durability issue, but the thing is, I couldn't really sit and predict injuries too (well, I could, but that just bastardizes things). I'm making these picks with the teams as they are now. Further, if Tarvaris can play the Dilfer role, that defense + AP will lead to a poor man's Ravens team from 2000.

You also speak as though a healthy Julius Jones is a downgrade from Shawn Alexander's broken foot (which may or may not have been healed by God ... jury's still out) from last season. The younger Jones brother is a decent RB, and though he's not as good as Alexander (the third Barber brother) was in his prime, Jones is better than last season's version.

Jay(ke) Cutler put up decent numbers last season while losing 30+ pounds in 7 weeks due to his diabetes. Maybe I'm overrating him (probably am) since he appears to have control of the illness now, but only time will tell.

I agree with you on Pittsburgh and the AFC North.

Joe Cool, Jr. was a random concoction, I'll give partial credit to you though, Clement :-p

As for my love of the Panthers this season, at least it's gotta be more plausible than my love of the 49'ers last season ... right?

Paymon said...

Touche on the Panthers comment. That Niners pick from last year still reeks.

Call me a Julius Jones hater, but I think he is on a universal top 5 list of most overrated NFL "skill position" players.

After being awesome as a rookie in spot duty, he has vastly underachieved.

More on Seattle ... I probably should've mentioned that the WRs and loss of Zorn have a higher impact on them not winning 12 games than Jones. Courtney Taylor may start off the season as the WR2opposite Nate Burleson (what a fantasy steal he'll turn out to be if healthy).

On Tarvaris, I'm not quite he's disciplined enough at this stage of his career to play the Dilfer route. I'm very surprised that Minnesota that did not make a bigger play for Chad Pennington.

Anonymous said...

I think the Buffalo Bills will be a lot more competitive than you give them credit for and I think with a little luck they might even make the playoffs. They made all the right moves in the off-season to shore up their defense and Trent Edwards and the offense should be much improved.

I think the Carolina pick is a little suspect. They are a good team but I don't know what to expect from Delhomme. I don't know if he comes back to pre-injury form. I think New Orleans takes the division.

In the NFC West, Arizona should be a better than 6-10 team but I've been saying that for a number of years and they still come up short. I still think this is the year. :)

Finally in the NFC East, maybe I am biased, but you are not giving the Giants enough respect. There is a drop off from the loss of Strahan and Umenyiora but Tuck and Kiwanuka are both VERY talented and they will keep offenses honest. The secondary SHOULD be improved with a full Aaron Ross season and the addition of Kenny Phillips so you might see a change in defensive scheme from Spags.

On offense, you have a healthy Plaxico, a healthy (for now) Jacobs, a more seasoned and improved Steve Smith, and a more confident Eli Manning. The only loss was Jeremy Shockey and from the way he was used in the Giants' offensive scheme there should be minimal loss of production from Kevin Boss.

Because of that I see them as a 10-6/11-5 team and playoff bound. I see them at 4-2 in the division with wins likely against Rams, Bengals, 49ers, Ravens, Cardinals, Panthers, and Seahawks. Give the champs some respect! :)

Bill

Sum said...

Bill, I DID give the champs respect. I gave them 4 more wins than I gave them last year :-p

I already thought the front 4 on defense would be worse w/ the loss of Princess Strahan, since Osi wouldnt have the benefit of Strahan drawing the double-team so often. But now, they've got two relative newbies (when it comes to starting at DE).

That said, I don't claim to be a guru who is full of himself (unlike Dr. Z or Gregg Easterbrook). I just make picks, take the heat when I'm wrong, but rub it in KC fans faces when I'm right :-p

kiya said...

Way to retort Bill, Sum are you crazy? Buffalo is better than last year when they went 7-9. If Peters returns (a big if), Marshawn will get 1500 yards this year and Buffalo will be in the chase until the final week. Mark it down!