I strongly dislike Roger Goodell. He is by far the worst commissioner the NFL has had and maybe one of the worst suits in the history of organized sports at any level. I have been watching a lot of pre-season games A) because that’s just how I roll and B) because the NFL Network may be the greatest invention since the light bulb. It saddens me to see what Commissioner Fidel Goodell has done to the game of football. There’s a penalty on every other play. Defenders can’t hit a guy high, and now there’s a movement to ban hitting low due to knee injuries. What the heck is a defensive player supposed to do?? Most of the penalties I have seen called lately were, as recently as 2 or 3 years ago, just good solid football. And then there is the whole paralysis by analysis of what is and what isn’t a catch. When I was a kid a catch was a catch…but not anymore. Within 5-10 years pro football will be unwatchable and the destruction will be the fault of the evil Roger Goodell. The best thing for the NFL would be for Goodell to go away…one way or another…and for a new commissioner to simply say “Oh yeah…all that namby pamby “safety” crap…forget it. Let’s play football!!”. Unfortunately I don’t think that’s going to happen anytime soon. In the meantime I suppose we’ll forge ahead with business as usual while the game still somewhat resembles the football we knew & loved. Each team’s 2012 record is in parentheses immediately followed by my prediction for this season’s outcome. As always I’ll remind you that your humble Potentate of Profundity does not condone gambling so if you wager your lunch money and lose don’t blame me. Enjoy!!
New England Patriots
New York Jets
The Jets will be terrible and we all know it. It doesn’t matter whether it’s Mark Sanchez or rookie Geno Smith starting at quarterback. Head coach Rex Ryan might be gone by the time the bye week rolls around midway thru the season. Buffalo is starting someone named Jeff Tuel at QB in Week 1 which pretty much tells one all they need to know about the Bills. A lot of folks seem to be cautiously jumping on the Dolphins bandwagon but quite frankly I just don’t get it. They’ll be mediocre at best. So there is no doubt that the Patriots will walk away with their 11th division title in the past 13 years…the question is just how quickly they can clinch. I do think New England has plateaued and might take a tiny step back, but in this horrible division it will hardly be noticeable.
You want proof positive that life is unfair?? Terrelle Pryor is now a starting quarterback in the NFL while his former Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel is basically unemployable as a head coach until 2017. Not that Pryor’s presence behind center will help the Oakland Raiders all that much. This is Denver’s division to lose, and though I am a bit concerned about their defense after losing pass rusher Elvis Dumervil to an idiotic clerical error there are no such worries about Peyton Manning and the offense, especially after the addition of receiver Wes Welker. This will be Manning’s best opportunity to add another Super Bowl ring to his collection and I think he’ll make hay while the sun is shining. The Chiefs might be one of the most improved teams in the NFL after hiring new head coach Andy Reid and trading for QB Alex Smith.
Colts’ QB Andrew Luck acquitted himself pretty well in his rookie season and I don’t think we’ll see any kind of sophomore slump in 2013. Indianapolis is a young team that should continue to grow & achieve, and I really like the addition of running back Ahmad Bradshaw so long as he can stay healthy. What most pundits would likely disagree with is my assertion that the Texans will take a step backward. I am not at all convinced that running back Arian Foster can remain upright thru the entire season and top wideout Andre Johnson is now 32 years old. If first round draft pick DeAndre Hopkins, a wide receiver out of Clemson, can blossom early that might help. The other side of the ball features NFL Defensive Player of the Year JJ Watt so there are no worries there. This might be a make or break year for Titans’ quarterback Jake Locker and I am not convinced he’ll deliver. It’d be helpful if running back Chris Johnson could somehow return to his 2009 incarnation when he ran for 2000 yards and scored 14 touchdowns. The Jags are probably going to be bad again, though maybe not quite as bad as last year. When your quarterback competition involves Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne that’s not a good sign.
This could be the most competitive division in the NFL in 2013. Opinions vary wildly about the defending Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens. Some say this year’s Ravens are even better than last year. I can see that logic. The loss of safety Ed Reed and linebacker Ray Lewis won’t affect the team all that much on the field as both of those guys were old & slow. Baltimore added sack master Elvis Dumervil so theoretically the defense got younger & more athletic. But I just don’t think a team can go thru so many changes and not be affected. The loss of receiver Anquan Boldin…who was traded to San Francisco…is huge. Defending champs do generally make the playoffs but only 7 have ever repeated. The Bengals have quietly evolved from the Bungles to a nominal favorite to win the division. It is amazing what can be accomplished outside of a prison cell. The Browns are showing signs of life but aren’t quite ready to make a stir just yet. I actually read one fellow prognosticator who thinks the Steelers will win the division. Nothing would make me happier. However, I am very concerned about the offensive line (again), and as excited as I was when Pittsburgh drafted running back Le’veon Bell in the 2nd round that enthusiasm has been tempered by a pre-season foot injury that might keep the rookie off the field for the first couple of games.
New England, Indianapolis, Denver, Cincinnati, Baltimore, Kansas City
AFC Championship: Indianapolis Colts vs. Denver Broncos
New York Giants
I said that the AFC North might be the NFL’s most competitive division. Well here is a worthy rival. The Redskins season likely rests entirely on quarterback RGIII’s recovery from a knee injury suffered in a playoff game last season. Will he start in Week 1?? Will the powers-that-be proceed with caution and hold him out for the first few weeks of the season?? When he does see action will he be the same multi-talented threat he used to be?? The Cowboys…as usual…have lofty expectations that they won’t achieve. If I were head coach Jason Garrett I wouldn’t lose my real estate agent’s number just yet. I like the Eagles’ selection of Chip Kelly as their new head coach and I think he’ll do well in due time…but there’ll be some growing pains. I can never seem to get a good read on the NY Giants. When I think they’ll be good they fall apart and when I predict they’ll suck they win the Super Bowl. So it is entirely possible they’ll be a game or two better than my prediction. Or a lot worse. I don’t know.
San Francisco 49ers
St. Louis Rams
I’ll make one bold prediction. There will NOT be another tie this season!! The 49ers have history going against them as 28 out of 42 Super Bowl losers since 1970 haven’t won a playoff game the next season. Twelve of those teams missed the postseason and 16 lost their first playoff game. I do think ‘Frisco takes a tiny step backward this season simply because everyone will be gunning for them. It’ll be an interesting battle between San Francisco & Seattle. The two teams play each other on 9/15 (in Seattle) and 12/8 (in San Francisco) and my vibe is that Seahawks’ quarterback Russell Wilson will lead his team to a division title. The Rams lost RB Steven Jackson in the offseason but are stacked at the position with younger fresher legs. Quarterback Sam Bradford is at a crossroads in his career but the addition of speedy receiver Tavon Austin will help a lot. The Cardinals are a mess even though Carson Palmer has stabilized the quarterback position just a bit. Arizona will have to rely on their defense to get the job done and I think they need another year or two to gel.
New Orleans Saints
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
There’s not much to say about Carolina & Tampa. I don’t see either team making a positive jump in 2013. I think they’ll just be treading water. The real action will be at the top of the division where I think the Saints rebound from the collateral damage of BountyGate and get back on the winning track with head coach Sean Payton returning to the sideline. I expect quarterback Drew Brees to once again throw for 4000+ yards & 30+ touchdowns and the defense is now being led by new coordinator Rob Ryan which is a very good thing. Many of those TDs thrown by Brees will be caught by tight end Jimmy Graham who might just be the best in the business. One of my more…risky…forecasts is a slight decline for the Atlanta Falcons who came oh so close to going to The Super Bowl last season. The Falcons added running back Steven Jackson and defensive end Usi Umenyiora in the offseason which would seem to indicate that they believe this year is their big chance to finally get over the hump. Maybe they will. But I just don’t think it’s going to be quite that simple. I’ve been wrong before though.
Green Bay Packers
Last year I sang the praises of the Green Bay Packers and predicted that they’d beat New England in the highest scoring Super Bowl of all time. They promptly went out and lost 3 of their first 5 games and were beaten by the 49ers in the second round of the playoffs. So my expectations are somewhat cowed this time around though I still predict a division crown…they’ll just have to work for it. The Bears are another team like the NY Giants…difficult to read. I’m not a fan of quarterback Jay Cutler although if anyone can bring out his best it is probably new head coach Marc Trestman. The Vikings of course have running back Adrian Peterson, but as good as he is I don’t think he’ll get anywhere near 2000 yards again. For Minnesota to make another run at the playoffs quarterback Christian Ponder will have to show some significant growth and the defense…led by pass rusher Jared Allen…will have to be stellar. Minnesota ranked 2nd in rushing offense last season but 31st in passing offense. They’ll need to find some balance in 2013. The Lions…much like the Cleveland Browns…have shown some occasional signs of life but just aren’t there quite yet.
Washington, New Orleans, Seattle, Green Bay, San Francisco, Atlanta
NFC Championship: New Orleans Saints vs. San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco 49ers 30
Denver Broncos 34
- NFL player discipline shifts from Goodell to teams (cbssports.com)
- NFL 2013: Roger Goodell Strikes Again, Banning Custom Face Masks (jockstrapjournal.com)
- Roger Goodell: NFL will not take action against Eagles’ Riley Cooper (tracking.si.com)
- Farmer’s Almanac predicts Super Bowl snowstorm (ftw.usatoday.com)
- Players wonder: What’s a legal hit? (jsonline.com)
- Can ESPN Be Trusted? (dish.andrewsullivan.com)
- NFL preview: Dawn of new season sees Houston Texans at top of rankings (thestar.com)
- Goodell’s Outrageous Hypocrisy Extends to Cleveland (dawgpounddaily.com)
- Predicting every NFL game of the 2013 season… and then some (fieldgulls.com)