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2009 Season Predictions

September 9th, 2009

Here we go with the most valueless predictions I’ll make all season (and, baby, is that saying something). You know, since it’s not quite frustrating enough for me to get things wrong on a week-by-week basis, I like to start every season by making stupid predictions about how the whole damned NFL season will shake out. Smart, huh?

Here’s what I can predict with near certainty: At least one team that I think is gonna suck is gonna win its division. And at least one team that I expect to see great things from is gonna tank in a major way. (The good news for me is that the same can be said of the season predictions being put out there by actual experts. The bad news for me is that they get paid for their predictions.)

So I go ahead and do it. Every year. And you know what? It’s a safe bet Brett Favre calls it quits before I do. And, hell, he was good once. It was a long time ago, so maybe you don’t remember. But he really was.

Regular Season Records
As per usual, even I’m not stupid enough to think it’s possible to predict the records NFL teams will finish with. But if I’m predicting something, I’ve gotta predict something. So what you get from me is a range of the total wins I think each team is likely to achieve. That, you know, gives me a better chance at being right. Or at least it does in theory. In reality, it usually just makes me even more embarrassingly wrong. It’s a nice little trick. Check it out.

AFC East

New England Patriots, 12-15
The equation starts with the assumption that you have to be at least one win better with Tom Brady under center than you were with Matt Cassel. It moves on to take in the appearance that this team is more balanced than the 2007 squad that went 16-0. And it ends with the belief that you can never expect any team to win all 16 games in a regular season — certainly not twice.

Miami Dolphins, 7-11
Seven if last season was about smoke and mirrors (and the surprise rollout of the wildcat in the NFL). Eleven if the 2008 Dolphins were for real. Somewhere in between if everything else works out, but Chad Pennington takes half a step in the wrong direction.

New York Jets, 6-9
Adjust up by one if the Jets manage to find a receiver. Maybe two if it’s Brandon Marshall.

Buffalo Bills, 6-8
Sorry, coach, but TO or no TO, this is the end of the line.

AFC North

Pittsburgh Steelers, 10-14
Same team, different division. The big question is, how different?

Baltimore Ravens, 9-13
It’s all about Joe Flacco. If he improves over a standout rookie campaign, the Ravens win the division. He hits a sophomore slump, the team misses the playoffs.

Cincinnati Bengals, 7-9
The Bengals appear to be one of the most improved teams in the league. But only if Carson Palmer’s ankle heals up and if the rest of him stays healthy. I’m not sure you can count on either of those things in a punishing division like the AFC North.

Cleveland Browns, 2-5
Who’s the starting quarterback? Who cares?

AFC South

Tennessee Titans, 11-13
There’s no reason not to expect the Titans to pick up where they left off. Whether the division falls into their hands or they end up in a season-long battle depends more on what happens in Indianapolis than anything else.

Indianapolis Colts, 10-12
The off-season changes that have taken place in Indy aren’t minor by any standard. Still, the team should have plenty of firepower to make a run for the division title (and the conference two seed). How that firepower is used will make the difference.

Jacksonville Jaguars, 5-8
That’s one win for every committed Jaguars fan.

Houston Texans, 4-7
And the beat goes on.

AFC West

San Diego Chargers, 7-10
Is LaDainian Tomlinson poised for a huge year or a huge breakdown? Can a team succeed in year three under Norv Turner? Does it even matter in a division that can probably be won at 9-7?

Denver Broncos, 7-10
I like Kyle Orton. I don’t like him as much as I like Jay Cutler (talentwise, I mean), though there’s no question his attitude is a step up. And I’d like him a lot more if I were sure he was going to have Brandon Marshall stretching the field for him all season. Still, Denver’s got as good a chances as San Diego of take the AFC West — and of bowing to a wild card team (quite possibly a wild card team that comes in with a better record than them) in the first week of the playoffs.

Kansas City Chiefs, 5-8
The Chiefs may well contend for a division title in 2010. This season, 8-8 would be an absolute triumph.

Oakland Raiders, 2-5
Can someone help me understand how you make a win-now deal for Richard Seymour when you have no more hope of winning now with him than you had without?

NFC East

Philadelphia Eagles, 9-13
No team in the NFC East is winning more than 13 games. The Eagles could hit the limit if Brian Westbrook is healthy. If he isn’t, they’re still a formidable team, but they’re in for a tough fight in a brutal division.

New York Giants, 9-13
If they develop targets for Eli Manning, the Giants stand as good a chance as any team of winning this division (and quite possibly the conference title). If they don’t, well, there’s only so much Brandon Jacobs and Kevin Boss can do.

Dallas Cowboys, 8-10
Comings and goings elsewhere aside, the Cowboys (like most teams) will live or die based on quarterback play, and I’m less sure than ever that Tony Romo is anything more than a slightly better than average NFL QB.

Washington Redskins, 7-9
The Redskins may potentially be a force in the uncapped 2010 season — if anyone worth throwing tons of cash at actually makes it to free agency. This season, they’re just another unbalanced Washington squad.

NFC North

Green Bay Packers, 10-12
The Packers are the only team in their division without a new starting quarterback this season. They’re also the only team in the division that didn’t need one. While the rest of the North adjusts, it’s Green Bay’s division to lose.

Minnesota Vikings, 8-10
Brett Favre isn’t going to win games for the Vikings. He may manage to lose a couple– but that might still be a couple fewer than Tarvaris Jackson would have lost. This is Adrian Peterson’s team, and if they manage to steal the division or snag a wild card spot, it’ll be Peterson’s legs (and a badass D) that get them there.

Chicago Bears, 6-9
By the time this season’s over, Jay Cutler’s gonna seriously regret whining his way out of Denver, and the Bears are gonna seriously regret facilitating his exit.

Detroit Lions, 3-5
The Lions may not be the NFL’s most mismanaged team anymore (send your paper bags to Oakland, please), but they are still the Lions.

NFC South

New Orleans Saints, 10-13
The Saints offense should put the team in position to win at least 12 games all by itself. Whether the D helps, hinders or holds its own will decide where the team goes from there.

Carolina Panthers, 8-12
I have no real idea what to make of the Panthers, because I have no real idea what to make of Jake Delhomme.

Atlanta Falcons, 8-12
Another team that could win the division or crash and burn. It should be the former. The weapons are all there. But I’ve got this weird feeling it’s not gonna work out.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 3-5
The NFC South may not be the best division in football, but it’s gonna be highly competitive, which means its one mess of a team is in big trouble.

NFC West

Arizona Cardinals, 9-12
The Cardinals have the weapons to run away with this lackluster division. The only question is, do they have the attitude? If they do, it’s a slam dunk. If they don’t, they probably still take the title by default.

Seattle Seahawks, 6-9
Another Seahawks team that it’s hard to imagine anyone outside of Seattle will even notice.

San Francisco 49ers, 5-7
The Niners have about as much chance of posting a winning season as they do of signing Michael Crabtree before their season opener.

St. Louis Rams, 3-6
Steve Spagnuolo will turn this team around in a big way. Eventually.


And now, to be completely ridiculous, a look at how the playoffs won’t turn out. Let’s start with our seedings:

1. New England
2. Tennessee
3. Baltimore
4. Denver
5. Pittsburgh
6. Indianapolis

1. Philadelphia
2. New Orleans
3. Green Bay
4. Arizona
5. NY Giants
6. Minnesota

Wild Card Playoffs

Baltimore defeats Indianapolis
Pittsburgh defeats Denver

Green Bay defeats Minnesota
NY Giants defeat Arizona

Divisional Playoffs

Baltimore defeats Tennessee
New England defeats Pittsburgh

Green Bay defeats New Orleans
Philadelphia defeats NY Giants

Conference Championships

New England defeats Baltimore

Philadelphia defeats Green Bay

Super Bowl XLIV
New England defeats Philadelphia, 37-21

That’s what I’ve got. So, you know, let’s get to all the stuff I predicted would happen not happening. That’s the fun part, anyhow.

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