Saturday, September 8, 2012

Writing exercise


So the football season starts tomorrow(although... technically it started Wednesday), and I am obviously excited.  Although that might be mostly because the Vikings are facing the Jaguars, and thus they're going to get my hopes way up by winning their first game.  

But in any case, I got bored recently... and I decided to go through the NFL slate game by game, determine the winner, and report back my predictions for the overall year.  Warning: I like to be bold--so I am going to make a couple surprising choices.  But I predicted that the two 15 seeds in the NCAA tournament would beat the number 2s this year... as well as VCU making the Final Four the year before--so obviously these predictions are probably going to pan out.

NFC EAST
Eagles—9-7
Cowboys—9-7
Redskins—8-8
Giants—7-9

I see this division being close throughout the year, with everyone trading wins within their division.  But I think the Eagles win it this year, just because last year seemed to be a case of everything going wrong… and still they finished 8-8.  Not that 9-7 is much better, but it’s good enough to win in a tough division… as long as Vick stays healthy, I see this as a no-brainer.  Cowboys also emerge with a playoff spot—they have the talent obviously… and they’re always in the mix for the playoffs, so I have them as the 5 seed.  Giants I waffled between winning the division and finishing under .500—obviously chose the latter.  They’re always a tough out, but it seems that they lay an egg every time they’re expected to do well.

NFC NORTH
Vikings—10-6
Bears—8-8
Lions—6-10
Packers—6-10

This might not make much sense to people—other than—you know, I’m a homer.  But I see the Vikings shocking the NFL this year.  Every year there’s a team that finishes with a record that’s much worse than they actually are, and they usually tend to rebound the following year.  Ponder hopefully will progress to “average”, our horrendous secondary has been improved a bit, and hopefully Peterson stays healthy enough to take this team to the playoffs.  The Packers finishing last—also a huge homer pick.  But again—everything went well for them last year (outside of the playoffs, of course), so I’m expecting them to fall back to Earth.  Also, concerns about Rodgers’ health and their poor defense make me feel a little better about this obvious reach of a prediction.  Similarly with the Lions, concerns about Stafford’s health—and somewhat expecting a flat response to their first playoff appearance in ever.

NFC SOUTH
Falcons—12-4
Panthers—8-8
Bucs—7-9
Saints—6-10

I like the Falcons pretty much because no one else steps up to the plate in this division, but they’ve also seemed on the cusp of becoming this elite offensive team, and I think this is the year they do it.  The Saints have the talent to contend for the division as well… but to be honest, I’m expecting the toll of the offseason to show plenty here.  I like the Panthers as well, but their defense is just enough to keep them out of the playoffs.

NFC WEST
Cardinals—10-6
49ers—9-7
Rams—6-10
Seahawks—4-12

The 49ers are another team that I expect to fall back to Earth, but I still have them making the playoffs as the 6 seed—just because they still have a great defense, and they did add a bit of talent to their offense to hopefully make up for Alex Smith.  But I expect a worse record from them now that they have a 1st place schedule this year.  I do like the Cardinals as a sleeper—they put it together towards the end of the season (winning 7 of their last 9), and they’re really not that far removed from the Kurt Warner Super Bowl contending days.  Skelton seems to be the starter, and his arrival in the starting spot last year seemed to trigger the turnaround, and so coupled with the fact that I can’t find anyone giving them a chance to do anything this year… I’m going with a surprise division winner.  Seahawks are in last because I hate their jerseys and I hate Nike.


AFC EAST
Jets—10-6
Bills—8-8
Dolphins—8-8
Patriots—6-10

This might be another “what the hell are you thinking” division—and really, the entire slate of predictions might be that as well.  But for some reason, I’m expecting a meltdown coming from the Patriots (instead of the meltdown everyone’s predicting from the Jets)—if only because Brady’s getting up there in age, their defense still isn’t that great—and while Gronk was great for my fantasy teams, I don’t know if he’s going to be even close to replicating that output.  And they’ve been on top for so long… at some point, they’re going to make a surprising tumble down the standings.  As for the Jets—I have them taking this division, because all Tebow does is win.  Not that I assume he’ll take over as the starter… but you know, he’ll win by proxy.  Also, it seems like the sort of thing that will happen just to piss off people who watch ESPN and are tired of Jets coverage.

(Bills I can see making the playoffs, but their status as the de facto sleeper scares me off… because none of the de facto sleepers ever do well.  Dolphins I’m not sure about—they had a decent little team last year, but I don’t think Tannehill’s going to amount to much right away, and I can’t trust a coach named “Joe Philbin.”  But I have them going 8-8… I guess as a way to get the Patriots in last.)

AFC NORTH
Ravens—10-6
Bengals—10-6
Browns—7-9
Steelers—7-9

The Ravens  are still a formidable team—probably should have made the Super Bowl last year, and I can’t see any reason why they don’t make the playoffs this year.  But I also like the Bengals—if only because everyone seems to be writing them off despite the fact they made the playoffs last year.  I have them in as the 6 seed again.  As for the Browns and Steelers—the Browns might be a bit of a rosy outlook for them (I might be biased towards them—they’re sort of developing into my 2nd favorite team, just by being just as pathetic as the Vikings), but I feel somewhat confident in having the Steelers not make the playoffs.  They lost to a team in the playoffs whose only redeeming quality was having God on their side.  Plus, they seemed perpetually banged up, and that’s going to catch up at some point.

AFC SOUTH
Texans—12-4
Colts—12-4
Titans—6-10
Jaguars—3-13

In terms of reasonable predictions in this category, I think I nailed about 3/4ths of the division.  The Texans are going to dominate and contend for a Super Bowl (as long as they have a functioning QB), the Titans are going to be OK but struggle a little with Locker under center for his first year, and the Jaguars are going to completely irrelevant, as they should be every year.  Somehow I managed to have the Colts go 12-4 though.  I like them as a sleeper team—and now that they have a guy that won’t miss the entire season/won’t be playing professionally in an obscure semi-pro German league the following season at QB—I feel like they can put together the pieces to surprise some folks this year.  I don’t know how they ended up at 12-4… I guessed I just got used to picking them as an upset while going through each game this season.  But at the same time—Manning went something like 3-13 his first year only to improve to 13-3 his second year.  Luck will just expedite that process as the next franchise QB.

AFC WEST
Broncos—11-5
Raiders—9-7
Chiefs—6-10
Chargers—6-10

The Broncos managed to win the division with Tebow—and although Manning might be a literal sneeze away from not playing again, I think he can pull off a similar result this year.  I do have the Raiders challenging them… and if I wasn’t picking the games one by one, I might have been tempted to have them win the division.  But Carson Palmer—ehh, little iffy.


So my playoffs look a little something like this:
1.       Texans--12-4
2.       Broncos—11-5
3.       Ravens—10-6
4.       Jets—10-6
5.       Colts—12-4
6.       Bengals—10-6

1.       Falcons—12-4
2.       Vikings—10-6
3.       Cardinals—10-6
4.       Eagles—9-7
5.       Cowboys—9-7
6.       49ers—9-7

WILDCARD
Ravens over Bengals, Jets over Colts: Sorry Colts, but Tebow overrides Luck, even from the sidelines.  And the Ravens have been in bigger games than the Bengals have.
49ers over Cardinals, Eagles over Cowboys: Well, I have the Cards winning the division, but the 49ers are much stronger on defense, and that’s what prevails.  And I just can’t trust Tony Romo in the playoffs that much.

DIVISIONAL ROUND
Broncos over Ravens, Texans over Jets: As much as I like the Ravens, and as close as they got to the Super Bowl last year—not sure if I can trust them to get over the hump.  And the Texans are a much more solid bet than the Jets are… even with Timothy Tebow.
Eagles over Vikings, Falcons over 49ers: As much as I would like to pick the Vikings to go all the way… I mean, I am stretching my credibility quite a bit already getting them into the playoffs, much less as a two seed.  Also, we’re 0-3 in the playoffs against the Eagles.  As for 49ers/Falcons—I guess I just trust Matt Ryan more than Alex Smith.

CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP:

Texans over Broncos: A great run for Manning, but the Texans were a team that probably should have been in the Super Bowl last year.  And  although I have the Broncos improving under Manning… I can’t put him in the Super Bowl.
Eagles over Falcons: In the end, although the Falcons will make some strides in becoming an elite team, I doubt their ability to get finish the job and get to the Super Bowl at this point.  Andy Reid has had more championship game experience than Mike Smith, and the Eagles offense is explosive enough to get to the big game.

SUPER BOWL:

Eagles over Texans: A difficult pick.  But I’m going with the Eagles.  If Vick stays healthy throughout this entire year, I expect that the season is going to look like it was supposed to a year ago, which many thought would end with a Super Bowl victory.  As much as I love the Texans—and they have a stronger defense than the Eagles—I just think this is the year of the Eagles, and they get their first Super Bowl victory.