Friday, August 31, 2007

2007 NFL Preview


They can start the designs on another one of these babies for the Pats.

On Wednesday, Sports Illustrated released it's annual NFL preview issue. You know football season is here when that baby comes out. Peter King also took time to rank the 500 best players in the game, with a little one-liner for the top 300. A very good read.

You know what that means, right? Well, it doesn't mean that I'll be making a list of 500 football players, but it does mean that I will be bringing to you my first ever NFL preview column. I've decided that our two season forecasts should coincide with each other. Of course, there really isn't much to preview. The Patriots are a virtual lock. If Brady stays healthy, they will win. This is all a waste of time.

But I suppose if you're actually sitting down and reading this right now, you don't have anything but time on your hands. So here goes:

NFC

East:

Cowboys 10-6: If Tony Romo is for real, if last year was no fluke, they'll challenge for the NFC crown. If not, they'll go nowhere. I think Romo's for real. I don't think last year was a fluke.

Eagles 8-8: When McNabb is healthy, they invariably challenge for a spot in the Big Game. But at this point, you can't count on him staying upright for a full 16.

Giants 6-10: Nor can you count on this Giants team for anything, period. They are totally unpredictable. But they went 8-8 last year, they're still dysfunctional, don't know what's up with Eli or Coughlin and they lost Tiki.

(And speaking of Tiki...what a scumbag. You don't trash your former team like that. First Coughlin, now Eli. This man will do anything to draw attention to his stupid little radio show. Great player, but what a jerk.)

Redskins 5-11: Sorry D.C., but I believe in Jason Campbell about as much as I believe in Santa Claus. He deserves a chance, but I don't expect much from him. I just don't see it.

North:

Bears 12-4: Losing Thomas "The Hitman" Jones hurts, but with that D, they're still the class of the conference.

Lions 8-8: The Lions will take a huge step forward...and finish .500.

Packers 6-10: Seriously, it's time to move on from the Favre era. It's over. The magic is gone.

Vikings 6-10: I believe in Tarvaris Jackson about as much as I believe in the Easter Bunny.

South:

Saints 12-4: 2,000 total yards from scrimmage for Reggie Bush this year. 1,200 on the ground, 800 in the air. You can mark it down now. And Brees will have an ever better 2007 than 2006.

Panthers 11-5: Put me in the minority: I still like Jake Delhomme. What's wrong with Jake Delhomme? I don't get it. You can do a WHOLE lot worse than having Jake Delhomme as your starting quarterback. A WHOLE lot worse.

Bucaneers 6-10: This may be the Chuckster's last stand in Tampa.

Falcons 2-14: This could get ugly.

West:

Seahawks 9-7: Hassleback's gonna be more familiar with Branch, so that's good, but Alexander's 30 now and that O-line just ain't what it used to be without Steve Hutchinson, as we saw last year. They'll sneak into the playoffs, but don't expect much from them once they get there.

49ers 9-7: They'll be the NFL's version of the this past season's Orlando Magic: They keep getting better, they're headed in the right direction, they'll even sneak into the playoffs...but they're not ready yet. Nice start,
though.

(Just don't go giving Donte Stallworth Randy Moss-money this summer. Orlando took two steps back by giving Rashard Lewis $118 million this summer. That was ridiculous. You should get two Rashard Lewis' for that type of cash.)

Rams 8-8: Don't see them getting any better this year.

Cardinals 7-9: Soon, but not yet.

AFC

East:

Patriots 15-1: Most loaded team since the '98 Broncos. I heard somebody bring up their aging linebackers as a possible cause for concern, but that's really no problem at all: Belichick's linebackers don't get older, they just get cagier.

Jets 9-7: Loved the Thomas Jones signing, but it won't be enough this year.

Bills 7-9: Marshawn Lynch will be this year's Mo-Drew. I like what they're doing in Buffalo. They're taking steps forward, even if they're still baby steps at this point.

Dolphins 5-11: Does Trent have anything left? Based on last year, no.

North:

Ravens 12-4: McNair should be used as nothing more than a game-manager these days; at 34, he's not the man he used to be. And they lost Adelius Thomas. But they picked up McGahee, who's poised for a breakout year, and even without Adelius, the defense remains STRONG.

Steelers 11-5: Bounceback year for Big Ben. Last year was an abberation for Pittsburgh.

Bengals 9-7: Still question that defense.

Browns 4-12: The Browns just suck. Although I believe Brady Quinn is a team-changing quarterback. One day, we'll look back and wonder how he fell to No. 22 in the draft.

South:

Colts 12-4: I keep hearing about how many players Indianapolis lost this offseason. Um, isn't Peyton Manning still on this roster? Isn't he one of the five best quarterbacks in the history of the game? Isn't he in his prime? Peyton Manning is what Brett Favre used to be. The Colts will be fine.

Titans 10-6: Tennessee will win a Super Bowl within the next three years. Vince Young is like a more athletic John Elway. You're watching the early stages of a future legend. Witness as he takes on the Madden Curse this year and kicks it's ass.

Jaguars 8-8: Five years ago, they may have been able to get away with having a shaky QB and average-at-best receivers, because their defense and running games are so sound. But this isn't five years ago. This is five years later. Too many good teams in the AFC right now.

Texans 5-11: Andre Johnson is excellent, but Matt Schaub may struggle behind an offensive line that still sucks, and I don't know how much Ahman Green has left in the tank. I hate to rub it in but...they should've drafted Reggie Bush.

West:

Chargers 14-2: Not much to dislike about this team at all. Philip Rivers' natural progression from first-year starter to second-year starter will make up for the lack of a true No. 1 receiver. He's special. These guys are all set; all Norv has to do is stay out of the way.

Broncos 10-6: 1,500 yards for Travis Henry.

Raiders 8-8: A healthy Daunte Culpepper leads Oakland back to respectability.

Chiefs 4-12: Herm is always fun to have around, and LJ and Tony Gonzalez are great players and absolute gamers. Other than that...not so good. I enjoy watching their antics on HBO, but K.C. fans will not enjoy watching the Chiefs play football this season.

So, it's gonna look like this:

AFC:

1. Patriots 15-1
2. Chargers 14-2
3. Colts 12-4
4. Ravens 12-4
5. Steelers 11-5*
6. Broncos 10-6*

NFC

1. Bears 12-4
2. Saints 12-4
3. Cowboys 10-6
4. Seahawks 9-7
5. Panthers 11-5*
6. 49ers 9-7*

*indicates wild-card team

Wild-card round

AFC:

(3) Colts over (6) Broncos
(4) Ravens over (5) Steelers

NFC:

(3) Cowboys over (6) 49ers
(5) Panthers over (4) Seahawks

Divisional Playoff

AFC:

(1) Patriots over Ravens
(2) Chargers over Colts

NFC:

(1) Bears over Panthers
(2) Saints over Cowboys

Conference Championship

AFC:

Patriots over Chargers

NFC:

Bears over Saints

SUPER BOWL XLII:

Patriots over Bears

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