No need for sentimental memorials, opinion pieces on steroids, or any of the other things that have made TFSB your number bookmark on your favorite places. The NFL season is less than a week away. Without further ado, here are some predictions you can take to the bank.......or better yet, just take them to Vegas.
Miami Dolphins (11-5): The Dolphins have many experts across the nation drinking the kool-aid. Well, pass me a glass because I see a team strong on both sides of the ball with a motivated and hungry coaching staff. Duante Culpepper could be one of the biggest steals in NFL history.
New England Patriots (10-6): The "we can win with anyone" philosophy in New England may finally be catching up to them. Last year, the depleted roster was carried by Tom Brady. They will need another herculian effort from their quarterback if they hope to contend in the AFC. Brady is good enough to get them back to the playoffs, but they don't have enough reinforcement to advance.
Buffalo Bills (6-10): Marv Levy has a lot of work to do. A lot. If quarterback J.P. Losman improves, the Bills can hover around .500. If Losman plays like he did last year, the Bills will still be searching for Jim Kelly's replacement.
New York Jets (4-12): The J-E-T-S will be seeing a lot of L-O-S-S and hearing a lot of B-O-O-S.
Cincinnati Bengals (11-5): So maybe I have a man-crush on Carson Palmer. Can you blame me? By the end of this season, he will be fully acknowledged as the best player in the NFL. The Bengals have added enough on defense to give Palmer and company the support they need.
Pittsburgh Steelers (10-6): Riding a hunch here that the Steelers are in for a real struggle this season. Repeating isn't easy, and many people forget that Pittsburgh barely even made the playoffs last year before their stellar January run.
Baltimore Ravens (8-8): The timing just isn't right. Put the Steve McNair of four years ago with the Ravens defense of four years ago and you have a dominant NFL team. But four years later, both look old and past their prime.
Cleveland Browns (6-10): Cleveland will be more competitive than most think. It just won't show up in the win column. Expect a breakout year from quarterback Charlie Frye.
Indianapolis Colts (12-4): The Colts winning this pitiful division is the easiest prediction in sports.
Jacksonville Jaguars (8-8): Expect a regression in Jacksonville as the Jags front office failed to address their pressing offensive needs in the off-season.
Tennessee Titans (5-11): Something about Jeff Fisher tells me the Titans won't be doormats for long. But for this year, they better get ready for some muddy shoes.
Houston Texans (4-12): Contrary to popular opinion, the Texans made the right move in passing up Reggie Bush with the first pick in the draft. However, they still made a mistake in selecting Mario Williams instead of D'Brickshaw Fergusen. The Texans sieve-like offensive line will continue to be their achilles heal.
Denver Broncos (10-6): Still the class of the west, but the Bronocs will never go far with Jake Plummer at quarterback. Jay Cutler better be ready.
San Diego Chargers (9-7): Don't sleep on San Diego. Phillip Rivers may be unproven, but he has some deadly weapons surrounding him in LT and Antonio Gates.
Kansas City Chiefs (8-8): Larry Johsnon will rack up numbers, but the vaunted Chiefs offensive line lost two of it's main cogs in the off-season. The defense still needs work as well.
Oakland Raiders (4-12): Things have become comical in Oakland, with a revolving door of horrible coaches and unhappy players.
Division Winners (in order): Colts, Bengals, Dolphins, Broncos
Wild Cards: Patriots, Steelers
Wild Card Playoffs:
Dolphins over Steelers
Broncos over Patriots
Colts over Broncos
Bengals over Dolphins
Bengals over Colts
Washington Redskins (11-5): A miserable pre-season has raised some serious questions in Washington, but Joe Gibbs has assembled an all-star staff that may be playing possum right now. The slimmest margain separates first from last in this brutal division-- my money goes on the best staff.
Dallas Cowboys (10-6): A combustible team on many levels. Capable of winning the Super Bowl or going 8-8. History tells us Bill Parcells will not implode, however, it also tells us that in each of his stops he has advance one step shorter than before.
New York Giants (9-7): Another tough call. If you love Eli Manning, you are probably picking the Giants to win the division, or possibly even the whole things. If you have doubts about Manning, you probably have them in this slot.
Philadelphia Eagles (8-8): Donovan McNabb will return to form this year, but the Eagles have taken too many roster hits to stay at the top of the East.
Chicago Bears (10-6): The Bears could forfeit all of their September games and still win this division going away.
Minnesota Vikings (7-9): The Vikings late run last year was a fluke--they collapsed when it mattered most. They have already been crushed by injuries and the defection of Koren Robinson. The Vikes better find a party boat, because there won't be much celebrating going on at the Metrodome.
Green Bay Packers (7-9): The Packers are sacrificng a year of development for quarterback Aaron Rodgers so Brett Favre can toss a few more interceptions on his way to the Hall of Fame.
Detroit Lions (6-10): A semi-interesting team in that Mike Martz has certainly proven he knows how to run an explosive offense. But does he have the horses in Detroit? And can the defense get them on the field?
Carolina Panthers (11-5): Once again, the Panthers are a popular pick to represent the NFC in Super Bowl XLI. But how soon people forget they thrashing they took in Seattle last January. It wasn't a fluke. There is a missing element with this team.
Atlanta Falcons (10-6): It's now or never for Michael Vick. Look for him to have a strong season and for WR Michael Jenkins to have a breakout year.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-8): Feel me once, shame on you. Feel me twice, shame on me. We'll see which one it is, Chris Simms.
New Orleans Saints (4-12): The Saints will stink, but they sure will look good with Reggie Bush, won't they?
Arizona Cardinals (10-6): Every pre-season prediction needs at least one shocker..... Everyone knows the Cardinals have a potent offensive attack, strenghted by Edgerrin James. What most people don't know is that the Cardinals have a tough front seven on defense that can hold opponent's in check. Balance these things with a new stadium and two lightweights in the division, and you've got a recipe for success.....finally.
Seattle Seahawks (10-6): The past five Super Bowl losers have missed the playoffs the following year. Will the Seahwks reverse the trend? Yes, but it won't be easy.
St. Louis Rams (6-10): Possibly the worst front seven in the NFL. That's a bad thing. A very bad thing.
San Francisco 49ers (3-13): Yikes. Just yikes. It's weird to see the 49ers in this state.
Division Winners (in order): Panthers, Redskins, Bears, Cardinals
Wild Cards: Cowboys, Seahawks
Wild Card Playoffs:
Seahawks over Bears
Cardinals over Cowboys
Panthers over Seahawks
Redskins over Cardinals
Redskins over Panthers
Super Bowl XLI:
Bengals over Redskins