Smark Central’s (not so) Bold NFL Predictions
I am back again for year three of my totally unfounded, not researched, non-factual, totally by the gut NFL predictions. Hey, it worked out pretty well last year. I correctly predicted the two super bowl teams. I got the winner wrong, but hey it’s all about getting to the dance right? Who cares that I picked the wrong fat girl to bring? I got there, got hammered, got a sloppy blow job in the limo and that’s what matters damn it! Fuck all that reading and shit. “Ain’t nobody got time fo dat”
AFC East: The New England Patriots (10-6)
“Oh no Gronk’s hurt”, “oh no Hernandez got arrested for murder”, “oh no Wes Welker took his extremely hot wife and went to Denver”, “oh no Tom Brady is another year older”, “oh no, the Pats actually signed Tim Tebow”, “oh no Bill Belichick’s exoskeleton fell off and it turns out he really is a robot from the future here to destroy mankind by boring them to death”. Enough of the crying already from the Patriot fans and national media. Your team is going to be fine. They’re the fucking Patriots for crying out loud. No matter how bad things seem now and no matter how many changes/potential improvements the other teams make, everything will be fine. As long as Brady and Belichick are still there, it’s going to be fine. You don’t need more than ten wins to take this division. Even if the sky is falling, get over it. You’ve won the division eleven out of the last thirteen years, have been to seven AFC title games, went to FIVE Super Bowls and won three of them (including one that you weren’t supposed to win) and to top it off, you had a perfect regular season in 2007 (it would have been a perfect season had the Giants defense not made Tom Brady their bitch. HAHA.) That’s a historic run of excellence by any standard. You whining about this season is like Yankee fans (like me) whining about losing in the World Series when they have won twenty seven of them. Shut up and get ready for another season of Pats dominance. YAWN!
AFC North: The Cincinnati Bengals (11-5)
No, that’s not a typo. I am actually picking the Bengals to win a division that includes the defending Super Bowl champions (Ravens) AND the most decorated franchise in NFL history (Steelers). It’s not an easy call to make, but I’m going for it. The Bengals have a lot of young talent on both sides on the ball. Andy Dalton is not a great QB, but he doesn’t have to be. This is a budding team that has everything going for them. It will be a tight race all the way, but I think they ultimately prevail. The Ravens like most recent Super Bowl champions were decimated by free agents jumping to other teams as well as having to dump other higher paid players to get under the salary cap. They can thank QB Joe Flacco’s $20 million dollar a year salary for that. Yes, we actually live in a World where even mediocre QB’s now make eight figure salaries.
However, the Ravens didn’t lose everybody. Last I checked Ray Rice, Torrey Smith, Haloti Ngata and Terrell Suggs still play there. Oh and they added Elvis Dumervil from Denver with all that money they saved on their own free agents so they’ll be just fine. Definitely pencil them in for the wild card. The Steelers while still talented in many areas are still in semi-rebuilding mode. This year the defense will see several new faces and the offense is down Mike Wallace who left for Miami. New RB Le’Veon Bell should help stabilize a running game that was near the bottom of the league last year (26th overall), but I still think it’s one more season of developing players and finding their identity as a team. Cleveland despite being basement dwellers for the last…well forever actually might improve a little this year. They too have some exciting young players like Josh Gordon to make things interesting. They’ll still finish last, but their showing signs of life which is something new for any sports team in the city of Cleveland except for these guys:
AFC South: The Houston Texans (11-5)
Here’s another open and shut case. Sure Houston lost some pieces, Arian Foster’s yards per carry was down, and they still have Matt Schaub at Quarterback, but there is still not enough competition from the teams within the division. Yes, the Colts made it back to the playoffs last year, but they won seven games in which they were behind in the fourth quarter. That is unsustainable. Many are predicting a step back for them and I am buying into it all the way. Luck is a very good QB, they have nice young talent, but they are still a few years away from being the dominant team they were during the Peyton era. Their defense has to greatly improve for them to slide into the playoffs again. Jacksonville or Jokesonville (get it?) as I call them (I don’t call them that) is not going to be any kind of threat mostly because their whole offense (a.k.a Maurice Jones Drew) is coming back from a LesFranc foot injury. While he may return to form, they are still helmed by Blaine Gabbert at Quarterback who barely beat out Chad Henne for the starting job. Yes, that Chad Henne. The Titans improved their offensive line hoping to revitalize the career of two time fantasy football disappointment of the year, Chris Johnson. Speaking of disappointments, they added former Jet Shone Greene to the backfield mix. Not that he’ll be any more than a goal line back, but it’s certainly notable. Also notable is that it seems like it’s a do or die year for Quarterback Jake Locker and coach Mike Munchak as this will be their third season together in Tennessee.
AFC West: The Denver Broncos (13-3)
I don’t care who you lose on defense, when you have an offense that includes one of the top five QB’s of all time, a future Hall Of Famer in Wes Welker, two deep threats like Decker and Thomas, you’re going to win at least ten games and easily take the division just on your ability to score alone. Now losing Dumervil (to stupid clerical error) and Miller (to an ill-advised drug suspension) sucks, but if your defense can navigate the first few weeks without giving up major points, then they should be fine. Kansas City is an interesting team. They now have Andy Reid (recently departed the Philadelphia Eagles after 14 years) as their coach and Alex Smith (former number one overall pick/bust now all of a sudden a sought after starting QB). They had numerous pro bowl players last year, but injuries and a few other things didn’t go their way and they ended up a lousy 4-12. I honestly like them, but I refuse to back an Andy Reid coached team because I have been burned too many times. Andy needs to prove his brand of football still works and that losing his job in Philly was a mixture of other factors. San Diego finally rid themselves of toxically bad coach Norv Turner. I don’t even remember who replaced good ol Norv, but I don’t care. Anyone has to be a better coach than that tool bag. The Chargers still have the goods to be good, but it will take a lot to get them back to the post season this year. Next year, they could be the favorites. Is there any other team in the West worth mentioning? No. I didn’t think so.
Baltimore Ravens (10-6): As I touched on earlier, the Ravens are down, but not out. They may struggle early, but I believe things will improve for them as the season goes along. With so many new starters (seven on defense) there is going to be some growing pains and time needed for adjustment. I believe they will make those adjustments and return to the postseason.
Miami Dolphins (9-7): Miami it’s not just about hoops anymore. All you lazy fair-weather fans can now get excited about this Miami hype machine known as the Dolphins. Oh yea. Miami’s young nucleus may be ready to take the next step. Sophomore’s Ryan Tannehill and Lamar Miller are coming along nicely in their development and their defense while not exactly flashy, is effective and underrated. They also added wide receiver Mike Wallace from Pittsburgh who can go deep basically anytime he feels like it. These guys could surprise some people come the end of the season.
- Denver (13-3)
- Cincinnati (11-5)
- Houston (11-5)
- New England (10-6)
- Baltimore (10-6)
- Miami (9-7)
Wild card weekend
Houston def. Miami
New England def. Baltimore
Denver def. New England
Cincinnati def. Houston
Denver def. Cincinnati
NFC East: Washington Redskins (11-5)
Another year of me not picking the Giants to win their own division. Shouldn’t really be a surprise to anyone who saw the emergence of RG III and Alfred Morris last season. The two rookies added a whole new dimension to the Redskins offense with the read option and they never slowed down until Griffin went down with a knee injury in the playoffs. I don’t see them slowing down this year too often. In fact I am predicting an NFC title game appearance for them this year. As for the aforementioned New York Giants, I’m not expecting much. Their depth has already been affected by injury, their defense is middle of the pack at best and two of their division rivals (Redskins and Eagles) are going to have very unique offenses that are difficult to stop. Oh and let’s not forget those pesky Cowboys who have a ton of fire power in their own right. I can’t see much better than 8-8 or 9-7 for the G-Men this year. The Giants week one opponent, the Cowboys are looking like their ready to make a playoff appearance after a three year absence. I mean they always look good on paper and always seem to find a way to lose (choke) in December, but I have a feeling this year will be different. There is just too much talent for them to miss out on January again. They won’t last long, but they should get there thus keeping coach Jason Garrett employed for another year. The Eagles should improve on their hideous 2012 season by a few games, but I don’t see their defense being good enough to keep them in games. They are going to have to score A TON to have a winning record.
NFC North: Detroit Lions (10-6)
Maybe it’s the weed talking, but I think Detroit really has a shot to win this division. The addition of Reggie Bush at running back should bring (if nothing else) balance to their offense. Their defense while not particularly strong or deep should be way better than it was last year. Just as it will be difficult for the Colts to repeat their winning ways in close games, it will be as difficult for the Lions to lose six close games a second year in a row. Plus it seems like many of the character/off the field issues have been cleared up as well. Then again most of that was Titus Young so maybe it’s a little too soon to tell if this team has matured the way it needs to. Meanwhile the Packers are in a similar situation to the Saints in that their defense is terrible and their offense is amazing. Unfortunately, it won’t be amazing enough and the Packers will be on the outside looking in this year. I’m not sure where to put Chicago at this point. It’s hard to figure out a club that fires their coach after a 10-6 season. I thought for a second the Bears had been bought by Jerry Jones or Woody Johnson. Their defense is always one of the top units in the league, but their offense is going to change and until they play a few games no one is going to know how effective they’re going to be. They will probably hover around the .500 mark for most if not all of the year. The Vikings who had no business being in the playoffs last year will once again be out of the playoffs. If not, then something is seriously wrong (or right?) in Minnesota. It’s either that or they’re being compensated by the football Gods for having to deal with that asshole Randy Moss…twice.
NFC South: Atlanta Falcons (13-3)
So much for the “regular season team” huh? Well at least I was right about half of this division. The Bucs spent significant money and went nowhere and the Saints were an absolute disaster. I mean 7-9 isn’t 4-12, but it felt like 4-12. They missed Coach Sean Payton badly and the defense was dead last in the league. It wasn’t pretty and it probably won’t change much this year. I really can’t see more than nine wins for them. If they can find a way to improve their defense in the offseason, they could easily be back in the Super Bowl next season, but this year doesn’t look good. Speaking of looks, the Falcons looked amazing last year. They even won a playoff game! This year they might win two or maybe even three. Three would happen if they could Falcon punch the AFC representative in the Super Bowl which I think they will reach, but they will ultimately fall in. As for the Carolina Panthers, they should improve on their dismal 6-10 season from a year ago. Another year of Cam Newton and another year for a maturing defense will probably add another two or three wins bringing them up to respectable. If not, Coach Ron Rivera could be gone. Speaking of losing a job, Bucs Quarterback Josh Freeman seems to have a tenuous hold on his and could be benched if the team continues to struggle. He had better hope sophomore stud running back Doug Martin has more 256 yard games in his future because it’s probably the Bucs best change to move the ball. I don’t see improving much on the 7-9 record from last year.
NFC West: San Francisco 49ers (11-5)
This division is amazing. A few years ago, it sent a 7-9 Seattle team to the playoffs and had everyone and their mother complaining about the playoff system and now it’s the most stacked division in football. Even the Cardinals and Rams significantly improved their team this offseason. I still expect the Niners to retain the division, but it’s going to be tough. Seattle is running the pistol/option offense with the dynamic Russell Wilson under center and their defense is stacked with pro bowl type players. Arizona has finally stabilized their quarter back situation by bringing in Carson Palmer which will bring mega star wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald back to life and preventing him from doing bodily harm to himself or others. Not to mention their stout defense with cornerback Patrick Peterson and safety Tyrann Mathieu who is seemingly at this point a third round draft steal. The Rams also added key pieces like tight end Jared Cook and have gotten younger at running back with Daryl Richardson and Isiah Pead looking to take over for veteran Steven Jackson. Despite all that, I think the Niners still take it unless their lack of wide receiver depth comes back to bite them.
Seattle Seahawks (10-6): This is a team that is too good not to be in the playoffs so here they are. Not as good a record as last year, but they still get in. They could take the division if San Francisco isn’t as good as the hype that surrounds them. They have everything it takes to win – a fiery head coach, a solid running game, a smart quarterback with skill and a winning attitude, and a stingy defense.
Dallas Cowboys (10-6): I said it earlier and I’ll say it again, this is a team with as much talent as anybody in the league and they should be able to at least get in. They won’t go far, but they win just enough down the stretch to get in. If they don’t, it’s going to be a long offseason in Jerry World. I don’t want it to happen, but if a team was ever due, it’s this one.
- San Francisco
Wild Card weekend
Washington def. Dallas
Seattle def. Detroit
Washington def. San Francisco
Atlanta def. Seattle
Atlanta def. Washington
Super Bowl XLVII
Denver Broncos def. Atlanta Falcons
Sorry to bore everyone with the idea of ANOTHER Manning Super Bowl appearance/win, but I refuse to believe that Peyton Manning who might be the greatest statistical QB of all time will only walk away from the game with only one Super Bowl ring. It can happen, but it’s not likely. The o-line probably won’t be as strong and the defense has lost some keys pieces, but the Broncos can ride Peyton’s arm to victory. Atlanta is for the most part a complete team, but their young defensive backfield would be their undoing in a shootout with Peyton. If the weather comes into play, it could be a low scoring game. Peyton has shown zero ability to play well in bad weather and Matt Ryan plays more than half his games in a dome. Any kind of snow or freezing cold weather could spell doom for one or both of these offenses. Hopefully it won’t be too harsh and we’ll have a great game to remember as what will probably be our (NJ/NY) one and only Super Bowl.