Archive for September, 2010

Week Three Picks

September 23rd, 2010 Comments off

This is when I start to get cocky – and doubly dangerous for it. Because I’m looking at stats and trends based on all of two games, which is pointless. It’s way too easy with this sample size for one oddball outing to throw everything off. And still, I can’t help myself. One more reason for you not to believe a word of what you read here. Except these: Here’s what not to expect.

San Francisco (-2.5) at Kansas City
OK, yeah, I get it. The 49ers may be 0-2 and the Chiefs 2-0, but the week two results tell a slightly more complicated tale. The Niners played very well in their Monday night loss to the Saints, while the Chiefs essentially backed in to their win at Cleveland. Fair enough. But, you know, here’s what I see: Each of these teams has faced a strong opponent at home and a weak one on the road. One of them has found a way to win in both cases, the other has found a way to lose. I’m not celebrating the Chiefs for beating the Browns, nor am I gonna bash the Niners for losing to the Saints. But I’ll be damned if I’m gonna pick a road team (that, by the way, has played horrendous pass defense so far this season) to top a home team that appears to me to be playing better in many phases of the game. Chiefs by a field goal.

Tennessee (+3) at NY Giants
The Giants offensive line can’t pass protect worth a damn. And their defense can’t stop the run. This, I tell you, is not a good combination when you’re facing the Titans. Chris Johnson has another big day. Eli Manning hits the deck three times. And Tennessee wins by seven.

Pittsburgh (-2.5) at Tampa Bay
So, say you’re still (for whatever reason) a fan of Ben Douchelisbagger. How do you make the case that your guy is an elite quarterback when his team has been winning with Dennis Dixon and Charlie Batch taking the snaps? Setting that question aside (for someone who might actually care), I’ve gotta say I’m confounded by this game. If the Bucs could stop the run, I’d probably take them in spite of the fact that I think their passing D stats are seriously skewed by having played no one. But they can’t stop the run. So that leaves me to what? Take the Steelers, who have yet to mount an offense? I mean, yes, that’s what it does. But I don’t feel good about it. And I’m sure as hell not giving two and a half points. Pittsburgh by one.

Detroit (+10.5) at Minnesota
I’m gonna go out on a limb and predict that Jahvid Best won’t have the kind of day against the Vikings defense that he had at home against the Eagles. And that even old, washed up Brett Favre will manage to complete a few passes (though to whom, I have no better idea than Favre does) playing against the Lions’ terrible D. Vikings by nine.

Atlanta (+4) at New Orleans
Can someone, without referencing Super Bowl XLIV, give me a reason why I should pick the Saints in this game? Because I’m looking at the results of weeks one and two and I’m just not coming up with one. Falcons pull off the upset with a three-point win.

Cleveland (+10.5) at Baltimore
The Browns reportedly have contacted the Eagles about the possibility of trading for Kevin Kolb. Because, yeah, that’s the fix to the Browns’ problems. Baltimore by two touchdowns.

Buffalo (+14) at New England
The Patriots defense has work to do, which might be a bit easier if the offense were to start playing 60 minutes of football now and again. The Pats build a 35-3 first half lead and end up winning 42-20. Because the Bills are … well, they’re the Billls, aren’t they?

Cincinnati (-3) at Carolina
Look, I know he came out of a pro-style college offense and all, but I still can’t help but wonder, if Jimmy Clausen were a quarterback who was likely to be ready to start three weeks into his rookie season, would he have fallen to the second round of the draft? Bengals by six.

Dallas (+3) at Houston
The Texans are going to be brought back to earth at some point by way of their almost complete lack of anything resembling a pass defense. But that won’t happen against a team with an almost complete lack of anything resembling an NFL offensive line. Houston by a field goal.

Washington (-3.5) at St. Louis
Got Clinton Portis on your fantasy team? Start him. Racial Slurs by 10.

Philadelphia (-3) at Jacksonville
There was a point, I remember, during the pre-season when I found myself wondering if there were a journeyman quarterback whom I thought might have a big season. Couldn’t come up with a one. That as it turns out, was because I’m stupid. Don’t expect a lot of defense in this game. Neither team appears to have one. The Eagles, however, do appear to have an offense. That should prove enough to get the job done here. Philly by four.

San Diego (-5.5) at Seattle
The Chargers haven’t done a whole lot to impress me this season, but I still rather suspect they’re better than the Broncos. And I’m certain that the Seahawks team we saw last weekend in Denver was more likely the real thing than the team that victimized San Francisco a week earlier. So I’m taking the Chargers straight up, though I’ll go with the Seahawks with the points.

Oakland (+4) at Arizona
Considering the fact that neither of these teams has a run defense, this game could be over (I mean literally) before the rest of the late games make it out of the third quarter. I’m not giving four points, but I’m taking the Cards straight up.

Indianapolis (-5.5) at Denver
If Denver had any ability to run the football, this game could be interesting. The Broncos certainly appear to bring the more balanced defense to the field. They should have the ability to slow the Colts down some. Or at least they should early. As the game wears on and time of possession begins to weigh heavily in Indy’s favor, I’m expecting the Broncos to fall apart. It may look close at halftime, and possibly as late as the middle of the third quarter, but at the end of the afternoon, I expect to see the Colts in front by somewhere between seven and 10.

NY Jets (+2) at Miami
Let’s see if the Jersey Frat Boys can stay sober long enough to get a game in. If they can, they might not lose too bad. OK, in all seriousness, this game comes down to turnovers. Or, more likely, a turnover. Both teams come in with what look to be significant Ds. And both have less-than-stellar offenses. So it stands to reason you’re not gonna see a lot of scoring. This game could very well end with both teams scoring in the single digits. My guess is that there’s gonna be a key turnover at one point in the game that will either lead to points for the recovering team or deny the losing team a scoring opportunity. And that will be the difference. Since the Fins are home, I’m giving them the edge. Miami wins 7-6.

Green Bay (-3) at Chicago
Who knows? There may yet come a point this season when I actually believe the Bears are for real. But they’re gonna have to beat better teams than the lowly Lions and vastly overrated Cowboys before that happens. A win here would make a huge impression. But that’s not gonna happen. Packers by eight.

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Week Two Picks

September 17th, 2010 Comments off

The big danger in picking week two games is that you think you know what’s going on based on what you saw in week one, but there’s no way to know which of the opening game results were real and which were flukes. All you can do, all you can ever do, is pick based on what you think you know. And go in understanding that you’re probably gonna get more wrong than you get right. The good news: there’s a built-in excuse. I just gave it. Here’s what not to expect.

Buffalo (+13) at Green Bay
Look, the Dolphins are a playoff contender. It’s not like the Bills’ embarrassing home opener came against, oh, let’s say the Rams. Still, 166 yards of total offense? Fifty yards on the ground? Three of 14 in third down conversions.? At home? And, you know, it’s not like the Fins were getting the most out of their offense. Something tells me the Packers offense might prove a bit more of a challenge. So, yeah, I’m gonna give the 13. I’d probably give 20.

Baltimore (-1.5) at Cincinnati
I wasn’t sold on Cincinnati going into the season. I came out of last weekend even surer that the Bengals won’t repeat as AFC North champs. (Not to take anything away from the Patriots, who played the best all-around game I’ve seen from them since 2007.) Then again, I also came out of Monday night with a lot less confidence in Baltimore’s potential than I had going in. The Ravens are playing their second consecutive road game, never an easy thing. And they’re doing it on short rest, against a division rival that’s had a good bit of success against them in recent seasons. So although I’m doing it somewhat reluctantly, I’m taking Cincinnati straight up here. I’m expecting to see the Bengals take the win at the wire, coming out ahead by a point, maybe two.

Pittsburgh (+5) at Tennessee
The Steelers aren’t stopping Chris Johnson. And Dennis Dixon isn’t beating the Titans D. Tennessee by a touchdown.

Chicago (+8.5) at Dallas
The Bears are a bad decision by Calvin Johnson away from having lost their home opener. The Cowboys are 0-1 because their O-line is a complete mess. I don’t like either of these teams. I can’t take Chicago straight up. But I’m sure as hell not taking Dallas to win by more than a touchdown. Cowboys by four.

Philadelphia (-4.5) at Detroit
I know it’s been a long time since Michael Vick started a game in the NFL, but I’ll take my chances with him against a defense that gave up 372 passing yards and a pair of TDs to Jay Cutler Eagles by six.

Tampa Bay (+3.5) at Carolina
I’d love to take the Bucs in honor of Talk Like a Pirate Day, but, you know, it’s not like t his game’s being played at sea. So I’m going with Carolina. And as long as Matt Moore’s head isn’t totally swimming, I’m thinking the difference should be something like six.

Arizona (+6.5) at Atlanta
Although they were singularly unimpressive last week, I still think the Falcons will find a way to beat the starting quarterback-less Cardinals. But probably not by more than three.

Kansas City (+2) at Cleveland
The consensus of experts seems to me that the young Chiefs probably can’t repeat their success from Monday night traveling to Cleveland on a short week. That reasoning’s sound, I suppose. But something tells me the experts are underestimating Kansas City again. I went along with that mistake last week. I’m not doing it again. I’m taking the Chiefs to win it.

Miami (+5.5) at Minnesota
It won’t be long before Brandon Marshall has his first breakout game in t Dolphins uniform, but it’s not coming here. That’s nothing to do with Marshall. It’s the Dolphins’ offensive line. If you give up three sacks to Buffalo, what happens when you come up against a team with an actual pass rush? Add the that the Dolphins are on the road for a second straight week while the Vikings are playing on 10 days rest, and the choice is fairly obvious: Minnesota, I’m thinking the Vikes win by somewhere around nine.

Seattle (+3.5) at Denver
Yeah, you know what? I’m still not buying into Seattle. Win this one, even though I’m in no way impressed by Denver, and I’ll start to think about changing my mind. Broncos dink and dunk their way to a three-point victory.

St. Louis (+4) at Oakland
One of these teams has to win. And the Raiders are at home. And, as mentioned, Sunday’s Talk Like a Pirate Day. So, sure, I’ll take Oakland straight up. Why not? Raiders by a field goal.

Houston (-3) at Washington
I wasn’t impressed by what I saw from the Racial Slurs on Sunday night, were you? And, you know, I’m pretty sure the team Houston beat last week is a bit better than Washington. Texans by four.

Jacksonville (+8) at San DiegoYou know what would be entertaining? Watching the Chargers self-destruct completely if they were to find a way to lose this game. It’s not gonna happen, of course, but it’s fun just to imagine. San Diego by 10.

New England (-2) at NY Jets
It may be odd to think in week two, but the Jersey Frat Boys have their backs up against the wall here. Because, look, they drop this game, they’re not just opening the season 0-2. Nor even just opening 0-2 with a loss to the team they came into the season hoping to unseat at the top of their division. They’re doing both of those things without having played a road game. That’s no small matter. So if you’re inclined to go with the “team that needs it most” philosophy of picking, you probably favor the Frat Boys. The problem with that thinking, though, is that it only really works when all (or at least most) other things are equal. And they’re not in this matchup. New Jersey, for all the hype achieved heading into the season, has bigger problems than the mere fact that they dropped their home opener. Their bigtime cornerback‘s extended holdout netted him not only a big, new contract but some bonus hamstring trouble. They’re down a hell of a nose tackle. They’ve got problems on the left side of their O-line that aren’t going away. They’ve got a distinct lack of receivers and a quarterback who probably couldn’t deliver the ball if the receivers were there. And they’re playing on short rest. My guess is that the Patriots will put eight men in the box early and challenge Mark Sanchez to beat them. And if New England gets a lead and doesn’t need to sweat Shonn Greene they’ll let loose with the pass rush and make it a long, long day for the home team. In case you haven’t guessed yet, I’m taking New England. And, yes, I’m giving the two stinking points.

NY Giants (+5.5) at Indianapolis
Manning Bowl! Manning Bowl! Manning Bowl! Sounds exciting, doesn’t it? Almost seems like it could be a good game given that the Giants are off to a and the Colts … well, aren’t. But the thing about it being the Manning Bowl is that thinking about what that means forces you to confront the fact that Peyton just has better targets than Eli. At least that’s the case right now, which is when this game is being played – in Indianapolis. Colts by a touchdown.

New Orleans (-4.5) at San Francisco
The champs will have had 11 days rest by the time this thing kicks off. The hosts will be eight days removed from getting their heads knocked off by a team that may yet prove to be better than anyone anticipated, but that almost certainly isn’t on the same level as the Saints. New Orleans by 10.

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Week One Picks

September 10th, 2010 Comments off

Well, the 2010 season sort of failed to start with a bang, didn’t it? And the thing is, it might be weeks yet before we know for sure whether it was a matter of both Minnesota and New Orleans having stellar defenses or (I’m leaning in this direction) the Vikings having a stout D and a fairly inept offense. I guess that’s neither here nor there for the moment, though. What matters now is that it’s time I quit stalling and got to the bad predictions. Here we go again. What not to expect:

Cleveland (+3) at Tampa Bay
Look, I’ve always liked Jake Delhomme, OK? So I hope I wrong. But I’m pretty sure he’s done. And I’m pretty sure it’s hard to succeed in the NFL when your starting quarterback is … well, done. Even when you’re playing a Bucs team that’s pointed in the right direction but has a good way to travel before they actually get anywhere. Bucs by a field goal.

Miami (-3) at Buffalo
You know what I really, really don’t enjoy? Feeling like I have to pick the road team in a divisional matchup on opening weekend. Thing is, I just can’t see the Bills D having a lot of luck stopping the Dolphins. Brandon Marshall all by himself makes the Miami passing attack tougher to shut down. That means you can’t stack the box to shut down the run. And run D hasn’t been a strong suit for the Bills in recent seasons. It all adds up to points for the Dolphins, points I can’t see the Bills finding a way to match. So I’m taking the road team in the divisional opener. And, yeah, I’m giving the points.

Cincinnati (+4.5) at New England
Three words of advice: Bet the over. Because, look, I just don’t see a lot of defense happening in this game. The Patriots during the pre-season failed to display any hint of a pass rush. That’s gonna expose their young secondary (a unit that I believe will improve dramatically as the season rolls on, but that needs to make some progress yet), especially when they’re up against the kind of receivers the Bengals are putting on the field this season. Then again, if the Patriots’ offense is the unit it appears to be on paper and in the pre-season, there aren’t many Ds that are gonna contain it all season. And Cincinnati certainly doesn’t appear to have the defensive stuff to do the job. So that’s a big day of scoring. And, ultimately, if we’re looking at a shootout, I like the squad with Tom Brady pulling the trigger. Patriots by seven.

Indianapolis (-2) at Houston
As I wrote in my season predictions post earlier in the week, I’ll buy into this year’s “Houston’s coming on” hype when I’ve got a damned good reason to. Like, you know, if I’m wrong about this game and the Texans top the Colts. But that won’t happen. Indy by nine.

Denver (+2.5) at Jacksonville
If I had my druthers, I’d find a way to pick both teams to lose. But it doesn’t work that way. So I’m splitting the difference. I’m taking the Jags straight up, and the Broncos with the points.

Atlanta (-2) at Pittsburgh
This game would be easier to pick if Ben Douchelisbagger weren’t serving a four-game suspension. In that case, I’d happily give five times the points. Still and all, I like the Falcons by a field goal.

Oakland (+6) at Tennessee
If you’re Oakland, you’ve got one option in this game: Stack the box, limit Chris Johnson‘s production, and force Vince Young to beat you through the air. The only problem is, I’m not sure the Raiders can pull it off. Tennessee by four.

Carolina (+7) at NY Giants
I keep hearing about how the Panthers manhandled the Giants in New Jersey at the end of last season. But, you know, old season, old stadium, young Carolina team. I’m going with New Jersey straight up, though I like Carolina to keep it closer than seven.

Detroit (+7) at Chicago
Eight words I almost can’t believe I’m typing: I’m taking the Lions and giving the points. (On the road, no less. In a divisional game. In Chicago. How weird is that?)

Arizona (-4) at St. Louis
The Cardinals have no quarterback. The Rams have no football team. I’ll go with Arizona. Let’s say by six.

Green Bay (-3) at Philadelphia
I won’t be surprised at all if these teams end up meeting again in January, possibly rather late in the month. That game will take place in Green Bay, partially as a result of the outcome of this one. Packers by four.

San Francisco (-3) at Seattle
Here I go again, taking a road team in a week one divisional match. And here I go again asking this question: What choice do I have?

Dallas (-4) at Washington
This time I’ll take the underdog home squad. Why? Because I just don’t believe in Tony Romo, particularly when he’s playing behind a highly suspect O line. That’s the long and short of it.

Baltimore (+2.5) at NY Jets
I’d say it’s time for Rex Ryan and his gang of idiots to put up or shut up, but I rather suspect they’ll do neither. Ravens by six.

San Diego (-4.5) at Kansas City
I think the Chiefs keep this one close. I’m looking for a fairly low-scoring affair (which, you know, will bookend the week in a way) in which the Chargers come out ahead by two or three. Let’s go with 16-13.

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Season Opener Pick

September 9th, 2010 Comments off

Even though I don’t have a whole lot to say about this week’s slate of games (what am I gonna do, analyze stats and trends?), I’m not gonna be able to finish my picks for the week before tonight’s season opener (yeah!) kicks off. So here’s what I’ve got on that game. I’ll get to the rest soon enough.

Minnesota (+5) at New Orleans
It’s pretty exciting to start the new season with a rematch of last year’s NFC Championship. No matter how it turns out. I’m kinda with the oddsmakers on this one in that I expect a Saints win and I don’t expect the score to be quite as close as the title game’s. That said, I sure would enjoy seeing Brett Favre cost his team another win by throwing a stupid pick at the worst possible moment. I’m just sort of messed up that way. Saints by a touchdown.

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2010 Season Predictions

September 7th, 2010 Comments off

Earlier this year (think early February), I came to the conclusion that I was done making predictions of any sort related to football. Just done. No more weekly game picks. And certainly no more absurd exercises in pretending I have any chance of knowing how an entire season (and post season of NFL football is likely to turn out.

That, it appears, was my first bad prediction of 2010. Because, look, here I am, making predictions that can’t possibly work out. Unless, you know, my idea of things working out is that I get to look like even more of an idiot than I actually am. And, baby, that’s never been nearly as hard as it ought to be.

OK, so as usual, I’ll start out by noting that all I can predict with any real confidence is that at least one team that I think is gonna suck is gonna accomplish something meaningful (by which I mean a division title at least and maybe even a Super Bowl victory), and at least one team that I expect to see great things from is gonna finish the season in the cellar. I know this because that’s how it always works out for everyone who tries to peg football results going five months into the future. So, you know, at least I’m in good company. Or awful company. Probably awful company. I can’t talk about that with any degree of accuracy, either.

So here we go. I’m gonna make some predictions. And if they haven’t all gone completely to hell before the inevitable meltdown of the entire Cincinnati locker room, I’ll be as shocked as you are.

Regular Season Records
A couple years ago, I actually did give up trying to predict NFL teams’ season records. Because, well, come on already. But the thing is, you’re not making predictions if you don’t predict something. So here’s what I’ve got for you: a range of the total wins I think each team is likely to achieve. In theory, that approach should give me a better chance of coming out right. In practice, not so much. Still and all, here we go.

AFC East
New England Patriots, 9-12
It all comes down to the pass rush. If the Pats discover one, they should be one of those teams that turns the corner around mid-season, maybe wins its final six games, and looks dangerous heading into January. If they don’t, it’s not gonna matter if offense and special teams are improved over 2010, because the young secondary is gonna wear down, and New England’s gonna be lucky to back into the playoffs as a wild card squad.

Miami Dolphins, 9-12
Much to the dismay of the people of New Jersey, the Dolphins are actually the AFC East’s most improved team. And the squad with the most potential to displace New England at the top of the division.

New York Jets, 7-9
With Darrelle Revis back on the field, the Jets should have a hell of a defense. That’ll win them six games. Let’s see if the offense can account for more than a win or two now that everyone’s figured out how to force Mark Sanchez to make awful decisions.

Buffalo Bills, 4-7
The Bills are trying hard to claw their way out of the basement, and they may yet get there. But not this season.

AFC North
Baltimore Ravens, 11-14
The Ravens might be the best team in the conference. And, yeah, it’s got a lot to do with their defense. But don’t be surprised if this squad puts up a ton of points. If you can do that, and you can control the ball with your running game, you can make a talented defense look even better. .

Cincinnati Bengals, 5-11
For the Bengals, it’s all about how the season starts. Cincinnati’s got a tough first four weeks. If they come out of it 2-2 or better, they could get hot and make a nice run at the playoffs. If they come out of it 1-3 or 0-4, the things are gonna get pretty tense pretty quick in that locker room. And it all falls apart from there.

Pittsburgh Steelers, 8-9
Not a huge range there. That’s mostly because I’m pretty sure I know what the Steelers are. Average. Maybe just above average. That’s it.

Cleveland Browns, 3-6
Because they’re still the Browns. That’s why.

AFC South
Indianapolis Colts, 11-13
I’ve given up predicting the demise of the Colts. Now, maybe that’s a mistake. Maybe in the wake of Super Bowl XXXIV, Indy finally takes a nosedive. But I doubt it. Not in the AFC South as currently configured.

Houston Texans, 3-12
Because maybe this is the year when the team that always looks like it’s on the brink turns out actually to be there. And maybe not. Again.

Tennessee Titans, 6-9
Chris Johnson is a phenomenal football player, but he’s not an entire team. And as a unit, the Titans appear to have settled into a period of dedicated mediocrity.

Jacksonville Jaguars, 3-6
Coming in 2011 (assuming there’s a season): new coach, new quarterback.

AFC West
San Diego Chargers, 10-12
IN any other division in the AFC, the Chargers would be a nine-win team. But in the weak AFC West, and with a schedule that puts them up against the even weaker NFC West, the Chargers have shot at a bye in the first weekend of the post-season.

Kansas City Chiefs, 7-10
I think the Chiefs are gonna surprise a lot of people. They’ll start slow, (maybe even going 1-3 over their first four games), but they should pull even, and maybe get to 5-3, by mid-season. And if they can build on that, they may find themselves competing for a playoff berth when they host Oakland to close the season.

Denver Broncos, 3-6
The Broncos are banged up and thin on talent. That’s a really, really bad combination.

Oakland Raiders, 3-6
There are, for the first time since 2002, reasons to feel optimistic about the Raiders. The defense looks like it could be amazing. You still have to be able to actually score points to win NFL football games, though, and I don’t see a lot of reasons to anticipate that Oakland will be able to do that.

NFC East
Philadelphia Eagles, 9-11
The NFC East might not be the powerhouse division that it’s cracked up to be this season, but it should still be highly competitive. That means Kevin Kolb’s gonna have to prove he’s worthy of the faith the Eagles clearly have in him. I suspect he’s up to the task. But if he comes out of the gate slow, things could get ugly fast.

New York Giants, 9-11
The Giants’ chances in the division will have everything to do with whether their receiving corps rounds into some kind of form by mid-season.

Washington Native Americans, 8-10
If Donovan McNabb is healthy and the offensive line can hold, Washington can compete for a wild card spot. The Native Americans defense certainly appears ready to do its part. But if that O-line isn’t improved, neither Mike Shanahan’s offense nor McNabb’s skills are gonna be able to save this squad.

Dallas Cowboys, 7-9
Yeah, the Boys have guys who can catch the ball. But they’re still counting on Tony Romo to get it to them. I’ll believe that formula can succeed when I see it.

NFC North
Green Bay Packers, 11-14
If it weren’t for the fact that the Super Bowl champion Saints are virtually the same team they were a year ago, I’d be saying the Pack are hands down the best team in the conference. And that’s not just because of Aaron Rodgers, though, obviously, he’s a hell of a quarterback. The Packers are a balanced football team. Balanced in the sense that they should excel in both offense and defense. And balanced in the sense that they’re not at obvious risk of becoming one-dimensional on either side of the ball. That’s the stuff champions are made of.

Minnesota Vikings, 7-9
Last season, Brett Favre and the Vikings got within one stupid play of the Super Bowl. This year, they’re out to take it the next step. It’s not gonna happen. This team is going in the wrong direction, and they won’t get turned around until Favre actually retires.

Detroit Lions, 5-7
Hey, look at that. I’m not expecting the Lions to totally tank. And I’m not alone. It’s like waking up in an alternate dimension. Enjoy the ascent to near mediocrity, Lions fans.

Chicago Bears, 3-5
Jay Cutler isn’t the kind of quarterback you want playing behind a highly questionable offensive line. That situation has disaster written all over it.

NFC South
New Orleans Saints, 10-12
The Super Bowl champion Saints are essentially the same team they were a year ago. That’s mostly a good thing. But they’re playing a tougher schedule and coming off an extended season. Both of those things should hurt. Not enough to cost New Orleans a division crown, but enough to cost them the conference one seed. And a visit to Green Bay in late January could be highly problematic.

Atlanta Falcons, 9-11
The Falcons can contend for the division title, but they’ll need help from the Saints to take it. And I don’t see that happening.

Carolina Panthers, 5-8
This is John Fox’s last season in Carolina. Next season, he gets to start building a winning squad somewhere else. This season, he gets to watch his miserable defense dig holes his talented, but not elite, offense can’t dig out of.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 2-6
The Bucs appear to be headed in the right direction, but I’ve heard that tune before. And it doesn’t matter this season either way.

NFC West
San Francisco 49ers, 9-11
The Niners are a decent enough team that will look great at times by virtue of playing an incredibly weak schedule. They’ll win the division, then lose to a wild card team in the first week of the playoffs.

Arizona Cardinals, 6-8
You know what’s a good thing to have on your roster in the NFL? A starting quarterback. Someone notify the Cards. In any other division, Arizona’s a six-win team at best. But when you play the NFC West (twice) and the AFC West, you get extra opportunities to back into victories. How exciting.

Seattle Seahawks, 2-5
The Seahawks are rebuilding. And they’ve got a long way to go. Two games against the Rams essentially spots them two wins. After that, it’s a crapshoot.

St. Louis Rams, 0-3
With the first pick in the 2011 draft, the Rams select Robert Quinn, defensive end from North Carolina.

Because this exercise isn’t quite silly enough already.

AFC Seedings
1. Baltimore
2. Indianapolis
3. San Diego
4. New England
5. Miami
6. Kansas City

NFC Seedings
1. Green Bay
2. New Orleans
3. Philadelphia
4. San Francisco
5. NY Giants
6. Atlanta

Wild Card Playoffs
Kansas City defeats San Diego
New England defeats Miami

NY Giants defeat San Francisco
Atlanta defeats Philadelphia

Divisional Playoffs
Baltimore defeats Kansas City
New England defeats Indianapolis

Green Bay defeats Atlanta
NY Giants defeat New Orleans

Conference Championships
Baltimore defeats New England

Green Bay defeats NY Giants

Super Bowl XLV
Green Bay defeats Baltimore, 33-27

That’s it. All the stuff you can expect to not happen for an entire season at a glance. How’s that for service?

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