2022-23 NFL Preview & Prognostications

I briefly considered tossing aside this preview and simply jetting off to The Bahamas for two weeks, but in the real world that’s not how life works. As you spend the next several months chilling out with hot wings & cold beer in front of your gigantic TV enjoying intense gridiron action a few days per week never forget how spoiled & out of touch the millionaire athletes, billionaire owners, & talking heads are and how little they understand or care about your daily struggles. Of course this is the same issue we have with actors & musicians who make millions of dollars entertaining the very people they disrespect & gaslight with their insane perspectives on various issues. That being said, the fact is we need to be entertained. Every species…humans included…require time to play. That’s a rabbit hole I won’t dive into right now except to say that sports is one of our most prominent outlets to fulfill such desires, so most of us are willing to put aside any issues and simply enjoy the games, and so we shall. 

North

Baltimore Ravens (8-9) 10-7 

Cincinnati Bengals (10-7) 9-8 

Pittsburgh Steelers (9-7-1) 9-8

Cleveland Browns (8-9) 6-11

The Ravens’ season was torpedoed by injuries a year ago, and I believe they’ll rebound nicely. I don’t think Lamar Jackson is as good of an NFL quarterback as he was a college QB, but he’s above average if he stays healthy & has a reliable backfield to whom he can hand the ball off, with a solid defensive unit for good measure. Cincy will still be good, but may suffer a bit of the traditional Super Bowl hangover. The Bengals focused on defense in the draft after adding some pieces to their subpar offensive line in free agency. Time will tell if that was a wise strategy. My Steelers might surprise some folks by being in playoff contention. A great defense and a stout rushing attack behind an improved offensive line will secure some victories, no matter which quarterback succeeds Big Ben. The Browns are the Browns. I may have given them a bit more credit if Deshaun Watson was going to be available, but he’s been suspended for 3/4 of the season. 

South 

Tennessee Titans (12-5) 10-7 

Indianapolis Colts (9-8) 8-9

Jacksonville Jaguars (3-14) 6-11

Houston Texans (4-13) 3-14

Tennessee drafted QB Malik Willis in the 3rd round of the draft, but he’s not going to be ready to start or maybe even play at all this year. Ryan Tannehill is a solid NFL signal caller, and with Derrick Henry toting the rock the Titans’ offense should be good enough, so if their defense, which admittedly doesn’t have much star power, is atleast average then I think a weak division is theirs for the taking. The Colts have a new QB after trading for 37 year old Matt Ryan, but if that’s supposed to impress me it falls short of the mark. Of course he too has a great tailback…Jonathan Taylor…to carry the load, but I don’t think it’ll be good enough. The Urban Meyer Era in Jacksonville was a total failure, but going forward the Jags could be headed in the right direction. We won’t see evidence of that in the form of winning alot of games this season, but QB Trevor Lawrence should start to justify why he was the #1 overall pick in 2021, and the 2022 #1 overall pick…pass rusher Travon Walker… is the real deal. The Texans are a mess, but they got some much needed draft capital in the Deshaun Watson trade so we’ll see where they are in 3 or 4 years. 

East 

Buffalo Bills (11-6) 10-7 

New England Patriots (10-7)  9-8

Miami Dolphins (9-8) 8-9

NY Jets (4-13) 7-10

Everybody is expecting the Bills to run away with the division and make a Super Bowl run, but not so fast my friends!! It won’t be as easy as some may think. The Patriots are still the Patriots as long as as Darth Belichick is in charge, so as much as I’d love for them go in the toilet I won’t believe it until I see it. Former offensive coordinator Josh McDaniel did bolt again for a head coaching job though, so perhaps we’ll see a chink or two in the armor. I’m a fan of Dolphins’ QB Tua Tagovailoa, and watching him toss the ball to receiver Tyreek Hill could be loads of fun, but I have too many questions about the rest of the team, including new head coach Mike McDaniel. Believe it or not I foresee a notable improvement for the Jets, especially if second year signal caller Zach Wilson shows some growth & maturity. That being said, I think it’s a team that needs a year or two to gel. Watch out for the Jets in 2024…you heard it here first. 

West 

Las Vegas Raiders (10-7) 10-7 

Denver Broncos (7-10) 10-7 

Kansas City Chiefs (12-5) 9-8 

Los Angeles Chargers (9-8) 8-9

This might be the most competitive & entertaining division in the league. All four teams are legit playoff contenders, and the difference between being on top or finishing in the cellar could come down to a single injury, turnover, or special teams blunder. The Raiders are getting a lot of attention after adding receiver Davante Adams, but are we overlooking their defense?? The Broncos are hoping to turn things around behind the leadership of new QB Russell Wilson, but can their defense kick it up a notch?? The Chiefs have been one of the top teams in the NFL for a few years now, but how will the loss of Tyreek Hill affect QB Patrick Mahomes?? Does he have the weapons to compliment his immense skill set?? The Chargers might have the most complete team in the division, and Justin Herbert gets undeservedly overshadowed by the signal callers on the other three teams. That being said, someone has to finish last and my vibe is that the ball simply won’t bounce their way this season.

Playoffs: Ravens, Titans, Bills, Raiders, Broncos, Bengals, Chiefs 

AFC Champion: Buffalo Bills 

North

Green Bay Packers (13-4) 11-6 

Detroit Lions (3-13-1) 7-10 

Minnesota Vikings (8-9) 4-13

Chicago Bears (6-11) 2-15

There’s no way the loss of receiver Davante Adams won’t negatively affect the Packers. However, the impact might be minimal given that they play in a weak division. Most of the drama surrounding QB Aaron Rodgers a year ago has dissipated, but holy schneikes…the dude will be throwing to a ragtag group of pass catchers that aren’t going to scare anyone. Running back Aaron Jones and a no name defense are going to have to really step up. The surprise of the division might be Detroit. I believe we’ll see the further maturation of QB Jared Goff, but I’m really looking for the defense to carry the team. Rookie defensive end Aiden Hutchinson is a difference maker. While the Lions take a small step forward I foresee the Vikings going backward in a significant way. The names on the back of the jerseys…Cousins, Cook, Thielen, Jefferson, Peterson…look decent enough on paper. I don’t know enough about new head coach Kevin O’Connell to intelligently opine, but I understand why former coach Mike Zimmer was fired since the team had kind of been treading water for a couple of years. I’m going out on a limb with this prediction…we’ll see how it goes. I’m a little more confident in prophesying Chicago’s ineptitude. It feels like a make or break year for QB Justin Fields in only his second season, but unfortunately for him I just don’t find the supporting cast impressive, and don’t think the defense is good enough to make a difference. 

South 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (13-4) 11-6

New Orleans Saints (9-8) 8-9

Carolina Panthers (5-12) 7-10

Atlanta Falcons (7-10) 3-14

He’s back…unfortunately. I know I know…many football fans (especially in Tampa, FL) rejoiced when Tom Brady’s retirement lasted about five minutes, but I wasn’t one of them. That being said, even without recently retired tight end Rob Gronkowski, I think the Bucs win the division comfortably. They may not win as many games as a season ago, and unlike other pundits I don’t believe they are a Super Bowl team, but the division is a low hurdle to leap. The Saints have some nice pieces on offense and the defense might be sneaky good, but it feels like the team is treading water. Carolina allegedly upgraded their QB situation by trading for Baker Mayfield, but I’m not sure that’s an improvement. If RB Christian McCaffrey is healthy and a young defense gels quickly perhaps the Panthers will make some noise, but I have low expectations. Unlike many talking heads I don’t see the Falcons losing Matt Ryan under center and replacing him with Marcus Mariota as anything worse than a lateral move. There are much bigger questions in Atlanta, and this feels like a period of transition that will see its fair share of rough patches. 

East 

Philadelphia Eagles (9-8) 11-6

Dallas Cowboys (12-5) 10-7 

Washington Commanders (7-10) 8-9 

NY Giants (4-13) 1-16

As usual I take any hype surrounding the Cowboys with a grain of salt. They’ll have a solid season and lose in the playoffs. Nothing new. Dak Prescott is a very good QB but not elite, and it isn’t helpful that he doesn’t have many reliable weapons. Conversely, I like what the Eagles have done. Jalen Hurts can be a legit NFL signal caller, and newly acquired receiver AJ Brown will absolutely help. I’m not as confident in their rushing attack as I’d prefer, but we’ll see what happens. They really improved their defense thru free agency, which is what tips the scales in their favor. The Commanders feel like they’re stuck in neutral, making this a pivotal season for head coach Ron Rivera. QB Carson Wentz gets yet another fresh start, and he may be running out of chances. I hesitate to “go big or go home” with the Giants, because I’ve been wrong about them more than once in years past. However, I have zero faith in QB Daniel Jones or any of the talent surrounding him, especially overrated running back Saquon Barkley. The defense could be okay, but that probably won’t cut it in this division. 

West 

Los Angeles Rams (12-5) 11-6

Arizona Cardinals (11-6) 10-7 

San Francisco 49ers (10-7) 6-11

Seattle Seahawks (7-10) 5-12

Will the AFC West be the best division in football, or will it be the NFC West?? I don’t believe we’ll see much decline from the defending Super Bowl Champion Rams, but the Cardinals will give them a run for their money. I foresee the Niners taking a step back given their unstable quarterback situation & lack of a premier tailback, but the defense will keep games close. The Seahawks will be starting either Drew Lock or Geno Smith under center, neither of whom strike fear in opposing defenses. Seattle will sorely miss Russell Wilson, and the defense is far removed from the old Legion of Boom days. At 70 years of age Pete Carroll is the oldest head coach in the NFL, and after a dozen years perhaps it is time for the Seahawks to move on. It could be a good landing spot for Byron Leftwich.

Playoffs: Packers, Bucs, Eagles, Rams, Cardinals, Cowboys, Commanders 

NFC Champion: Los Angeles Rams 

Buffalo Bills 34

Los Angeles Rams 24

Top 5 Picks in the 2023 NFL Draft

1 New York Giants 

2 Chicago Bears

3 Atlanta Falcons

4 Houston Texans

5 Minnesota Vikings 

2021 PIGSKIN PICKS OF PROFUNDITY…WEEK 18  

I have to tell y’all…I am glad Christmas is behind us. I desperately tried finding the holiday spirit this year, and admittedly there were a few high points. Alas, I found myself alone & miserable on Christmas Eve & Christmas Day. Fortunately I do have plans on New Year’s Eve, so I got that going for me, which is nice. Anyway, there’s still football as well, right?? If only we weren’t Steelers fans 😬👀🤦🏻‍♂️. This isn’t the right time for that rant though, so I’ll spare you. I was 3-2 last week and expanded my season lead slightly over Zach, who was 1-4. Since I’m a sporting kind of chap and really trying to end 2021 in a good mood we’re going to do some bonus picks. All of these games have playoff implications, and I will do my best to make sense of out of the various scenarios. Happy New Year Manoverse!! I’d like to dole out some sort of sage & motivational encouragement, but given the circumstances of the past couple of years the best I can do is “Buckle up lil troopers!!”.

My Season: 51-60

Zach’s Season: 45-66

Kansas City (-5) at Cincinnati 

The Chiefs have won the AFC West but need a victory to retain the top playoff seed, which is the only one that receives a bye. The Bengals’ seat atop the AFC North is somewhat tenuous, although they’re pretty much in the driver’s seat by virtue of tiebreakers. KC has won eight games in a row after so many people were ready to jump off the bandwagon, while Cincy is riding a two game winning streak & look to be peaking at the perfect time. We will learn a lot from this one. If the Bengals win, or even if they keep it close, it will reinforce the fact that they are a legit playoff threat. However, if the visiting favorites open up a can o’ whoopass like they did on my Steelers last week it could mean everyone else is in serious trouble. I think we’ll see something in between…a solid KC win that falls short of total domination. Zach has zero confidence in the Bengals, opining that most of the Chiefs team could be sidelined in “health & safety protocols” and they’d still win by double digits. 

My Pick: Kansas City 

Z’s Pick: Kansas City 

Miami at Tennessee (-3.5)

In case you haven’t been paying attention, the hottest team in the NFL right now outside of Kansas City is the Miami Dolphins. They’re not going to win the AFC East, but after seven consecutive victories they are in the thick of the wildcard chase, which is mind boggling. Conversely, the Titans have lost three of their last five games, yet still find themselves battling for the #1 seed in the AFC. They also have to keep winning though because they haven’t clinched the division title. I’m usually a big momentum guy, and part of me thinks I might regret the pick, but despite recent events I still feel like Tennessee is the better team. Zach really likes Dolphins’ head coach Brian Flores and thinks he’ll lead his club to another win. 

My Pick: Tennessee 

Z’s Pick: Miami 

Las Vegas at Indianapolis (-7.5)

Vegas has won two in a row and find themselves in the wildcard discussion. Indy still has an opportunity to win the AFC South. Jonathan Taylor is the best running back in the NFL at the moment, but Colts’ QB Carson Wentz is on the COVID list, meaning he might not be playing on Sunday, and that pretty much ends the discussion since no one is going to have much faith in rookie Sam Ehlinger. I have to assume the Raiders will dedicate the game to John Madden, which will provide extra motivation. Zach was uncomfortable with the points anyway.

My Pick: Las Vegas

Z’s Pick: Las Vegas 

LA Rams (-3.5) at Baltimore 

The Rams have won four in a row and are in a battle royale for the top seed in the NFC. They could also clinch a division title. The Ravens are in a scrum themselves…a hotly contested race for the AFC North crown. They’ve lost four straight games, with three of those coming at a total deficit of four points. If they don’t win the division, and especially if they miss the playoffs altogether, there will be a lot of “what might’ve been” talk in Baltimore. These look like two teams heading in the opposite direction, and I’ve got to think the hotter ball club will prevail. Zach feels like the Ravens have spiraled out of control, due in large part to The Sickness, and believes the Rams’ defense is a difference maker. 

My Pick: LA Rams 

Z’s Pick: LA Rams 

Denver at LA Chargers (-5.5)

I really thought the Chargers would be great this season, but they’ve lost three out of the last five games and need some help to secure a wildcard berth. The Broncos have lost three out of four heading into this week and won’t be playing in the postseason, but they could significantly alter the playoff landscape with an upset or two. They’d certainly kill the Chargers’ hopes with a win. Will that happen?? If the game were being played in the mile high confines of Denver I might be tempted to pick the underdogs, but I’ll be surprised if the Chargers don’t defend their home turf, especially with so much potentially on the line. Zach concurs. 

My Pick: LA Chargers 

Z’s Pick: LA Chargers 

Arizona at Dallas (-5.5)

Could it be an NFC Championship preview?? Perhaps. The Cards come into this one not only battling for a division title but also in play for the NFC’s top seed, even after three consecutive losses. Conversely, the Cowboys have won four straight and easily clinched their division, but they too want that #1 seed and the bye that comes with it. Momentum is clearly with the home team, but The Vibes are telling me that the underdogs will put it all together and defy the odds. Zach thinks Arizona is overrated while Dallas is playing well at the right time. 

My Pick: Arizona 

Z’s Pick: Dallas 

Minnesota at Green Bay (-6.5)

Aaron Rodgers makes it look so damn easy, doesn’t he?? Is he really that good…or should we give more credit to his receivers, offensive line, & coaches?? The answer is probably all of the above. I don’t know what the issues were last offseason that had Rodgers’ knickers in a twist, and have no idea what the future holds for him or The Pack, but at this moment in time they’ve won four in a row, comfortably took the division, and lead the race for the top seed in the NFC. The Vikes?? Well, they’re just average. It’d be a real stunner if they win and mildly surprising if they stay within ten points. This is the Sunday Night Football game, and I kind of feel sorry for NBC. I’m sure people will tune in at the beginning, but there might be a lot of channel flipping by halftime. Zach agrees.

My Pick: Green Bay

Z’s Pick: Green Bay 

2021 PIGSKIN PICKS OF PROFUNDITY…WEEK 10  

I was following a rather interesting thread on social media recently in which the original poster opined that fantasy football is pretty much all about luck. Others were quick to reply, defending the ideals of skill & knowledge. As with most things in life the answer isn’t clear cut black & white. Yes, people who know what they are doing have a better shot at success. Involvement is important…making the right trades, combing the waiver wire, starting or sitting the best players, understanding matchups. However, let’s not pretend that luck doesn’t play a huge role. Would you call owners of Patrick Mahomes and/or Derrick Henry uninformed or inept?? Of course not…but they’re probably not winning their league championship this season. At any rate, slow & steady wins the race, or atleast that’s what I’ve always heard thru the years. Zach & I both went 5-3 last week, continuing our laborious crawl back toward the .500 mark. We’ll get there…maybe. 

My Season: 28-31

Zach’s Season: 27-32

Boise State at Fresno State (-5)

At 4-4 the Broncos aren’t going to make it to the Mountain West title game, and at this point they’re just hoping for bowl eligibility. Conversely, the 7-2 Bulldogs need to keep winning if they want an opportunity to play for the conference championship. I have a feeling this will be a really entertaining game, so it’s too bad I have plans on Saturday evening and won’t be able to watch. Anyway, while I am tempted to pick an upset, The Vibes are telling me that Fresno will win by atleast a touchdown. Zach foresees a fun, high scoring, close game and likes the favorites to cover. 

My Pick: Fresno State 

Z’s Pick: Fresno State 

Tennessee at Kentucky (-2.5)

It’s Jim Beam vs. Jack Daniels!! If y’all don’t understand the reference you need to get out of the house more, but you’re probably healthier than us. At any rate, the Vols are 4-4 and playing for bowl eligibility, while the 6-2 Wildcats are in the midst of a stellar season in which the best they can hope for is a New Year’s bowl game because they play in the same division as the Georgia Bulldogs. Tennessee leads the all time series 81-26 (with nine ties), which combined with the home field should provide plenty of motivation for the favorites. I think they win easily. Zach doesn’t think Tennessee is a terrible team, but believes they’ve faced a brutal schedule that isn’t any easier this week.

My Pick: Kentucky 

Z’s Pick: Kentucky 

LSU at Alabama (-28.5)

As expected the playoff committee not only has Alabama in their Top Four…they ranked them #2, despite having one loss. I’m not surprised, and ultimately it is meaningless anyway because the winner of the SEC Championship between ‘Bama & Georgia is a lock for the playoff, while Alabama would certainly be eliminated with another loss. As for this game, the only reason it’s even appearing here is the points. So many  things factor into the discussion. I don’t care how bad LSU is playing there is no way they’d get beaten by 4+ TDs in Baton Rouge…but this game is in Tuscaloosa. ‘Bama cannot afford another misstep which adds an element of pressure. The Bayou Bengals have to have some pride left though, right?? If they could pull off a monumental upset and put the nail in the coffin of their rival’s championship aspirations it’d make their whole season. Do I think that will happen?? Absolutely not. Do I think the Tide will roll enough to cover the points?? Unfortunately I do. “Style points” are a thing, right?? I would be happy to be wrong though. The points are too much for Zach. He can buy ‘Bama winning by three TDs, but not four.

My Pick: Alabama 

Z’s Pick: LSU

San Jose State at Nevada (-10)

It’s a 10pm kickoff on Fox Sports 2, which is perfect. I’ll be home in time to watch atleast 3/4 of the action. Neither team is winning the conference but both should receive some kind of bowl bid. I am not especially knowledgeable about the Mountain West but as a night owl I’ve enjoyed their games thru the years. The odds are intriguing since the Wolfpack isn’t elite & the Spartans aren’t especially terrible, so ten points is quite a home field bump. The visitors are riding a two game winning streak, while the home team is coming off a beatdown of in-state rival UNLV. I think a touchdown will decide things one way or another, so I’m picking the underdogs to atleast cover. Zach concurs. 

My Pick: San Jose State 

Z’s Pick: San Jose State

Minnesota at Baltimore (-5.5)

The 3-4 Vikings aren’t winning the NFC North like I thought they would and just lost defensive end Danielle Hunter to a torn pectoral muscle. The Ravens are in a real battle in their division but had a bye last week. Logic dictates that Baltimore should win rather easily, but I’m not always the most logical person. The points caught my eye, and I really think Minnesota will atleast stay within a field goal. Conversely, Zach believes Baltimore has recovered from a sluggish start and is ready to roll now. 

My Pick: Minnesota 

Z’s Pick:  Baltimore 

Cleveland at Cincinnati (-3)

Not long ago the Battle of Ohio held no interest for anyone outside of the state’s borders, but both teams have emerged as legitimate playoff contenders. I predicted that the Bengals would surprise people and win the AFC North and halfway thru the season they’ve done nothing to dissuade me from that opinion. The Browns have not altered my assessment of them, although they’ve played somewhat better than I thought they might. This is where the rubber meets the road though, and if Cincinnati is to lay claim to the division title they have to defend their turf against division rivals. Zach really likes Bengals QB Joe Burrow and thinks he’ll lead his team to victory. 

My Pick: Cincinnati 

Z’s Pick: Cincinnati 

Tennessee at LA Rams (-7.5)

Wow, talk about two teams who’ve had an interesting week!! The Titans sit atop the AFC South and looked like they’d run away with the division crown after an overtime victory against the Indianapolis Colts. Unfortunately it was a costly win as they lost workhouse Derrick Henry…quite possibly the best running back in the NFL right now…to a foot injury. They’ve signed Adrian Peterson as a replacement. Peterson rushed for just over 600 yards in a committee backfield with the Detroit Lions last season, but he’s 36 years old & hasn’t played football in almost a year. Titans’ QB Ryan Tannehill now has to kick it up a notch, and fifth year RB Jeremy McNichols will get an opportunity to prove himself. As for the Rams, they’ve put all their chips in the middle of the table, trading for former Denver Broncos’ linebacker Von Miller and adding him to a defense that already had pass rushing beast Aaron Donald & defensive back Jalen Ramsey. The off-season acquisition of 33 year old QB Matthew Stafford has worked out quite well too. Just last week I would have told you that one of these teams is going to the Super Bowl, but it would’ve been the wrong team. Tennessee might still make the playoffs, but the loss of Henry is devastating. The Rams are clearly better right now, and I think they’ll win this one by double digits. Zach likes the home team as well. 

My Pick: LA Rams 

Z’s Pick: LA Rams 

Green Bay at Kansas City (-3)

Well damn…Aaron Rodgers tested positive for The Sickness. That makes this game a lot less interesting than it was just yesterday. KC has the home field too. You know who’s really pissed about this?? Fox. There goes their marquee matchup. To my complete shock & amazement Zach is sticking with his original pick despite the breaking news because “the Chiefs defense sucks”. I suppose we’re about to learn a whole lot about the future of Packers’ backup QB Jordan Love. 

My Pick: Kansas City 

Z’s Pick: Green Bay 

2021 PIGSKIN PICKS OF PROFUNDITY…WEEK 8

First, a shoutout to former Washington St. Cougars football coach Nick Rolovich, who was fired after refusing to get the COVID-19 “vaccine”. While it is true that Rolovich (who I assume was making pretty decent money), comedian Jim Breuer, NBA star Kyrie Irving, & country music legend Travis Tritt all have the kind of financial wherewithal to make the stands that they have against the fascist vax mob while working stiffs like you & me might not be in a position to do so, their decisions bring needed attention to the issue. I am sure that Rolovich, who was 5-6 in two partial seasons with the Cougars after going 28-27 in four years at Hawaii, will land a gig somewhere. Closer to home, my fantasy teams are letting me down but I had a decent week (3-2) here, while Zach (2-3) was on the wrong end of a couple heartbreakers. The journey to .500 looks to be an uphill climb, but we’re not chasing wins just yet. 

My Season: 20-26

Zach’s Season: 19-27

Coastal Carolina (-3.5) at Appalachian State

Way back when I did my preseason poll I stated about this game that “I have a feeling my eyes will be glued to the TV on October 20”. The undefeated & 14th ranked Chanticleers have upheld their end of the hype. The 4-2 Mountaineers?? Not so much. Getting pummeled by four TDs at Louisiana last week kind of took the shine off of this game. The fact that it’s on Wednesday night doesn’t help. At any rate, I still believe it’ll be a fun contest, and I’ll be watching…but I have little doubt that Coastal will win easily. Zach is impressed by Coastal’s team speed and predicts a double digit victory. 

My Pick: Coastal Carolina 

Z’s Pick: Coastal Carolina 

Oregon at UCLA (-2.5)

I really wish this was a late night game because it should be a dandy, but unfortunately it’s a mid-afternoon kickoff (for us East Coast viewers). The 5-1 Ducks aren’t currently in the playoff discussion like I thought they’d be, but there is a lot of football left to be played and they look like strong contenders for the PAC 12 title. Meanwhile, the 5-2 Bruins have been pretty good but regrettably stumbled a couple of times along the way. I still think Oregon can get into playoff contention if they win out, so I’m pulling for the upset. Zach isn’t as high on Oregon as I am, calling them inconsistent. That being said, he’s predicting a high scoring, close game with the visitors getting the win.

My Pick: Oregon 

Z’s Pick: Oregon 

Oklahoma State at Iowa State (-7)

The Big 12 is pretty fun this season!! It’s just a shame that my WV Mountaineers haven’t “climbed” into contention. Anyway, the 4-2 Cyclones have been a mild disappointment, although, to be fair, there’s no shame in losing to Baylor & Iowa. Conversely, the undefeated Cowboys look like legit contenders for the conference title, which I did not see coming. I have a feeling this one is going down to the wire and could be decided by a late field goal or in overtime, so the points are just too much for me. Zach predicts a boring game and doesn’t think OK St. will get thru the schedule without a couple of losses. However, he does believe they’ll get a big road win this week. 

My Pick: Oklahoma State

Z’s Pick: Oklahoma State

Clemson at Pitt (-3.5)

Folks, if you would’ve told me a couple of months ago that the freakin’ Pitt Panthers would be favored over Clemson in mid-October I’d have sworn you were doing drugs. Yes, the game is at Heinz Field. Sure, I predicted that the Tigers wouldn’t be playoff worthy, but I still thought they’d be a Top 10 team. No one ever gives the Panthers a second thought before, during, or after the college football season, yet here we are, with the 5-1 home team getting love from the oddsmakers while the 4-2 perennial title contenders are barely beating teams like Boston College & Syracuse. I kinda sorta get it, but then again I don’t. All the sudden Pitt’s senior QB Kenny Pickett is being touted as a legit NFL first round prospect, while Clemson QB DJ Uiagalelei is being cast as a disappointment not on the level of predecessors like Deshaun Watson, Trevor Lawrence, & Tajh Boyd. I don’t know…I’m just not buying any of it. I think Clemson is going to march into The ‘Burgh and smoke the Panthers. Zach believes Pitt might actually be for real, but Clemson will do enough to win this game. 

My Pick: Clemson 

Z’s Pick: Clemson 

Kansas City (-4.5) at Tennessee 

Tennessee scored a huge victory over the Buffalo Bills on Monday night and at 4-2 are running away with the AFC South. The Chiefs, as I predicted, are in a heck of a battle with three other teams in their division and need to stack wins for a possible wild card berth. If you’ll recall I said of the Chiefs that “most talking heads will consider them legit Super Bowl contenders, but I think they’ll lose a dogfight for the division, sneak into the playoffs as a wildcard, and be watching the Super Bowl at home like the rest of us.” My prognostication skills haven’t been too sharp in 2021, but even a broken clock is right twice a day. It is shockingly disrespectful for the Titans to be underdogs in their own stadium. At the very least this game should be a pick ‘em. Unlike the oddsmakers I have been paying attention, and I think KC has plateaued while their opponents are ascending. Could my Super Bowl prediction actually come to fruition?? Wouldn’t that be wild?!?!?? Zach loves Titans’ RB Derrick Henry and has zero confidence in the Chiefs’ defense. 

My Pick: Tennessee

Z’s Pick: Tennessee 

2021 PIGSKIN PICKS OF PROFUNDITY…WEEK 2

For those who may be new to these picks we normally choose five games each week. However, since we didn’t do this at all last year, and since the college schedule was abnormally stacked with awesome season openers last week, and since the NFL is back this week…well, y’all get what I call bonus picks. To be honest that’s a tad bit dangerous since neither of us got out of the gate too well. Zach nailed Fresno covering the points against Oregon, while I correctly predicted Georgia upsetting Clemson. Unfortunately though, we both finished 4-5. Let’s see if we can do better this week.

My Season: 4-5

Zach’s Season: 4-5

Oregon at Ohio State (-14)

I usually don’t like picking games involving teams we dealt with just a week ago, but this one is just too tempting. The Buckeyes had a tougher time with Minnesota in their opener than most anticipated but still managed to win by two TDs. Oregon also had a close call but emerged victorious. Both teams are preseason playoff participants for me, but I don’t think the Ducks will go to Columbus and win. Can they keep it close?? Probably not. I think the home team wins by 15-20 points. Zach isn’t impressed by either team, opining that Ohio St. needs to take pressure off their young QB by running the ball. He thinks this will be a boring game but the home team will win by enough.

My Pick: Ohio State

Z’s Pick: Ohio State 

Iowa at Iowa State (-3.5)

I think this could end up being the most fun game of the weekend. The Hawkeyes surprised some people a week ago by handling the Indiana Hoosiers by 3+ touchdowns, but not me. Meanwhile, the Cyclones handled their business against in-state 1-AA foe Northern Iowa. Who knew there were so many colleges in the state of Iowa?? Anyway, I think this might be a really close one…like field goal close, which is why I’m taking the visitors. Zach notes that he’d pick the Hawkeyes easily if the game were on their home turf, but thinks it’ll be a little tougher winning on the road. Like me he won’t go so far as to pick the underdogs to score the upset, but believes they will keep it close. 

My Pick: Iowa

Z’s Pick: Iowa

Utah (-6.5) at BYU

Conference realignment has really messed with some of the traditional charm of college football, including long-standing rivalries, so it’s nice to see intrastate games that are all too rare nowadays. The Cougars, whose invitation to join the Big 12 might already be in the mail, beat Arizona in their opener, while the Utes hardly broke a sweat beating some pissant irrelevant team that atleast got a nice payday. Utah is a rare road favorite because everyone is impressed by the big bad PAC 12, but I’m picking the upset. Zach concurs, stating that once again he isn’t all that impressed with either team. 

My Pick: BYU

Z’s Pick: BYU

LA Chargers (-1.5) at Washington

Since I predicted that the San Diego…excuse me…Los Angeles Chargers will narrowly upend the highly touted Kansas City Chiefs for the AFC West crown I suppose I need to get behind them early. I’m a little concerned about RB Austin Ekeler’s hamstring injury, but even if he misses the game I think QB Justin Herbert is good enough to get the job done, and I like LA’s defense to stop the Redskins’ (yes, I still call them that…deal with it) lineup of QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, RB Antonio Gibson, & WR Terry McLaurin. I think Chargers’ pass rusher Joey Bosa will have a huge game. Conversely, Zach has more faith in FitzMagic than Herbert and believes the ‘Skins get the win. 

My Pick: LA Chargers

Z’s Pick: Washington 

Cleveland at Kansas City (-6)

All the talking is done for the Browns. It’s time to prove that they’re worthy of the hype, but I don’t think they can. The crowd at Arrowhead Stadium provides one of the biggest home field advantages in sports, and that’s not going to change now. I’ll be disappointed if the Chiefs don’t win by double digits. Zach is all in on the Cleveland hype and thinks the home team will start slow and find themselves in a nail biter. 

My Pick: Kansas City 

Z’s Pick: Cleveland 

Arizona at Tennessee (-3)

I expect big things from both teams this season, so the loser of this game shouldn’t be affected too terribly. The Titans get the requisite home field bump, and I think they’ll win by atleast that much. Look for RB Derrick Henry to wear down the opposing defense and allow his team to take control in the fourth quarter. Cardinals’ QB Kyler Murray can’t hurt you if he’s on the bench, right?? Zach thinks Arizona has a bright future, but believes Tennessee is a team built to win now. 

My Pick: Tennessee 

Z’s Pick: Tennessee 

Green Bay (-3) vs. New Orleans

It should be noted that this game is being played in Jacksonville, FL due to Hurricane Ida. Drew Brees ain’t walking thru that door for the Saints, so they have to hope that former Heisman Trophy winning QB Jameis Winston can finally fulfill all the potential so many have always seen in him. The offseason hasn’t been any easier on The Pack, as quarterback Aaron Rogers creates more drama than the writing team of Days of Our Lives. Will all that off the field turmoil cause issues on the field?? I think it just might, especially in the first half of the season. But fear not Packer fans, because I think they’ll eventually figure things out. That being said, I am picking the upset in this one. While Zach agrees with me that Green Bay is a Super Bowl caliber team in the long run he also believes they’ll get out of the gate fast. He thinks Winston is garbage and New Orleans will get destroyed in this game. 

My Pick: New Orleans 

Z’s Pick: Green Bay 

2019 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…Week 17

Well folks, we’ve reached the end of the road…kind of. The NFL still has the playoffs & there are a few more college bowl games remaining (including the national championship), but the final week of the NFL regular season means the last round of picks for us. Last week was a really good one for me (5-0), although Zach (4-1) did pretty darn well too. He’s not going to catch me for the season, but it looks like he’ll finish well above .500, which is atleast 14 games better than a season ago. I finished 2018 five games below .500 and will be solidly above this year, so perhaps we are finally getting the hang of this. Or not. Who knows?? Who cares?? We have fun doing it which is all that really matters. There was no Thursday night game and will be no Monday nighter, meaning all the action takes place on Sunday. So grab a beverage, fix yourself a plate full of whatever Christmas goodies remain, & settle in for a fun day with RedZone.

My Season:     59-40

Zach’s Season:       52-47

 

 

 

 

 

Cleveland (-3)              at                Cincinnati

It’s the Battle of Ohio!! The Bungles have wrapped up the #1 overall pick in next spring’s draft and are preparing to make Heisman Trophy winning QB Joe Burrow’s life miserable (but atleast he’ll be rich). Meanwhile, the Browns came into this season full of piss & vinegar. There were people that actually thought they’d win the AFC North. Alas, the Factory of Sadness is alive & well. QB Baker Mayfield has looked good at times, but something just isn’t clicking. Enigmatic receiver Odell Beckham Jr. apparently wants out of Cleveland already, which has to be some sort of record. Head coach Freddie Kitchens is in way over his head. On paper this looks like a mismatch; Cleveland is talented but underachieving, while Cincy is just a big ol’ mess. Having said that, The Vibes are telling me the home team will defend their turf and put an hilarious exclamation point on yet another pathetic Browns season. Conversely, Zach likes the Browns ground game to lead them to a double digit win.

My Pick:     Cincinnati

Z’s Pick:     Cleveland

 

 

 

Oakland                       at                Denver (-3.5)

The Raiders still have an outside shot to make the playoffs. I’m not going to bother explaining it a) because I don’t even understand it myself & b) it’s not going to happen. Still, kudos to them for continued improvement. Next season the Las Vegas Raiders will make their debut, and that’s when the fun will really begin. The Broncos are going thru some growing pains as well and seem to be treading water. The Joe Flacco Era seems to be over, and going forward Denver will need to decide if Drew Lock is the long term answer at quarterback. This has been a great divisional rivalry over the years and I don’t think it’ll matter that both teams are going to be watching the post-season on TV. I’m picking the home favorites for no real reason, and Zach concurs.

My Pick:     Denver

Z’s Pick:     Denver

 

 

 

Chicago                       at                Minnesota (-1)

Which Trubisky will show up for the Bears?? Who are the Vikings going to grab off the street to play running back?? These will be the burning questions of the day. Minnesota has already locked up a playoff berth, while Chicago just wants to finish a very disappointing season at .500. I don’t foresee a high scoring game, and in a defensive battle in which field position, turnovers, & time of possession will be key factors I think I still trust the Bears defense a little more. Zach thinks Vikings’ QB Kirk Cousins will have a big day and lead his team to victory.

My Pick:     Chicago

Z’s Pick:     Minnesota

 

 

 

Tennessee (-3.5)                  at                Houston

This is a huge game…especially for us Steelers fans. Yeah yeah…we know, Pittsburgh has to beat Baltimore, which will be no easy task even if they are resting most of their starters. But the Texans MUST defeat Tennessee!! The problem is that Houston is locked into their playoff spot and may very well rest most of their starters just like the Ravens. I’m not even going to try to be objective. My hope is that…even with a team of backups…the Texans find a way to make us all remember why the Dolphins gave up on QB Ryan Tannehill and why he entered this season as a second stringer in Tennessee. Would I be willing to put money on that happening?? Ehhh…let’s not get crazy. Zach agrees.

My Pick:     Houston

Z’s Pick:     Houston

 

 

 

San Francisco (-3.5)           at                Seattle

Who will be the top seed in the NFC?? San Francisco, Green Bay, New Orleans, & Seattle are all still jockeying for position. The loser of this game will be knocked down a peg, while the winner will almost certainly earn a first round bye. It feels to me like the 49ers may have already peaked, while the Seahawks are just now hitting their stride. ‘Frisco will win a Super Bowl with Jimmy G under center someday, but it’s not going to be this season. The Seattle home field is just too much and I think they’ll handle business rather comfortably. Zach thinks it’ll be close but believes the suddenly unretired Marshawn Lynch could make the difference for the home team.

My Pick:     Seattle

Z’s Pick:     Seattle

2019 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…Week 16

The NFL is heading down the regular season home stretch, which means a few things. There was no Thursday night game, which made for a rather boring evening. The good news is that there are Saturday games now, so pay attention to the schedule so you don’t miss any action. The playoffs are taking shape, so several games involve teams playing for their post-season lives or atleast jockeying for seeding. Zach (3-2) bested me (2-3) last week, and kudos to him for picking the Atlanta Falcons. He may not have predicted the surprising upset, but he knew something was amiss. Merry Christmas to all who take time to stop by our cozy little corner of the info superhighway on occasion. The Manofesto continues to be labor of love and the best therapy this guy could ever dream of having.

My Season:        54-40

Zach’s Season:  48-46

 

 

 

 

 

New Orleans (-3)                  at                Tennessee

The Saints are obviously in the playoffs already, but they’re still battling the 49ers, Seahawks, & Packers for the NFC’s top seed. It’s a different story for the Titans. They could a) win the AFC South, b) make the playoffs as a wildcard, or c) not make the playoffs at all. Normally I put a lot of stock in a team with so much at stake, but not only is New Orleans clearly a better team, but they also have something to play for as well. Tennessee will likely make a game of it on their home turf, but I think the favorites win by atleast a touchdown. Zach agrees. He believes Titans’ RB Derrick Henry will have another nice game, but it won’t be enough to overcome a better one from Drew Brees.

My Pick:     New Orleans

Z’s Pick:     New Orleans

 

 

 

 

Carolina              at                Indianapolis (-7)

Fans here in West Virginia are excited because former Mountaineers QB Will Grier will get his first career start for the Panthers. Grier was chosen in the third round of last spring’s draft but was beaten out by Kyle Allen…an undrafted free agent with a year of pro experience…for the backup job. That decision proved to be noteworthy after starter Cam Newton got injured early in the season, and Allen did well for awhile. However, at 5-9 the powers-that-be in Carolina have decided it’s time to see what Grier can do. Newton is injury prone, expensive, 30 years old, and a free agent, so the future may be now for the Carolina Panthers. The Colts are familiar with quarterback issues, although to be fair Jacoby Brissett seems to be a solid NFL starter. Brissett hasn’t been Indy’s problem…it’s all the damn injuries. Trust me…I have TY Hilton & Marlin Mack on more than one fantasy team and their frequent absences have killed me. At any rate, s much as I’d love to see Grier do really well and get a leg up on becoming Carolina’s next starting QB I have to believe that Indianapolis will take care of business on their home turf. Conversely, Zach has no faith in Indy and thinks Carolina will control the clock & eat up yards on the ground to score a mild upset.

My Pick:     Indianapolis

Z’s Pick:     Carolina

 

 

 

 

Dallas (-2.5)                 at                Philadelphia

This is it…the epic battle of two 7-7 teams for the NFC East crown. I don’t think it matters which team actually makes it to the playoffs…whichever one gets there will likely be bounced in the first round by a really good wildcard. Jerry Jones has probably already made his decision to fire Jason Garrett, but it’d be really entertaining to watch ol’ Jerry’s head explode when the Cowboys miss the playoffs. The Eagles have fallen mightily since winning the Super Bowl a couple of years ago, but hey might be able to find a silver lining in an otherwise subpar season by winning the division. Zach thinks the Cowboys are too inconsistent and won’t be able to follow u last week’s big win with another.

My Pick:     Philadelphia

Z’s Pick:     Philadelphia

 

 

 

 

Kansas City (-5.5)      at      Chicago

I had such high expectations for the Bears this season, but they’ve severely underachieved and QB Mitch Trubisky has regressed to the point that I’m not sure his stay in Chicago will last all that much longer. Conversely, the Chiefs have been as advertised and are probably thinking Super Bowl. The talking heads like to point out cracks in KC’s armor, but I’m just going to go ahead and put this out there…I think they can beat both the Baltimore Ravens & the New England Patriots. I’m not saying it’ll be easy, but I am opining that it is possible. As far as this game goes, a lot depends on Trubisky. Every once in awhile he does show up & play like the high first round pick that he was, and if that happens this could be a really fun game. However, it is more likely that Trubisky is as unimpressive as he’s been most of the season and the Chiefs win by double digits. Zach concurs.

My Pick:     Kansas City

Z’s Pick:     Kansas City

 

  

 

Green Bay                   at                Minnesota (-4.5)

Everyone has kind of forgotten about the Packers while fawning all over the 49ers, Seahawks, & Saints, but they are 11-3 and could still be the top seed in the NFC. But…but…the Vikings are only one game behind, so the NFC North is up for grabs and will probably be decided by this game. I am intrigued by the points. I know it’s a home game for Minnesota, but it feels like the oddsmakers are giving them a lot of respect. This is the Monday night game, and Aaron Rodgers is only 7-8 on Mondays, which seems weird. I’m far too lazy to look it up, but it feels like he usually has a good game but his team somehow lets him down. Will that happen again?? I don’t think so, and neither does Zach.

My Pick:     Green Bay

Z’s Pick:     Green Bay

2019 NFL Preview & Prognostications

I was at an outdoor concert a couple of weeks ago, and as darkness fell around 9pm I felt a slight chill in the air. Autumn was in the breeze. That’s a feeling I usually don’t experience until Labor Day Weekend while attending our local Italian Heritage Festival. In the moment I was not pleased because I tend to prefer the warmth & sunshine of summer. I have nothing particular against fall except for the fact that it ushers in winter, which I despise. At any rate, in an effort to find a silver lining and think positive I must say that there are a few good things about autumn…my birthday, Halloween, & football. Glorious football is back!! It’s time once again to look into the pigskin crystal ball and make some predictions about how this season might play out. I don’t put a whole lot of stock in pre-season, but there are injuries, holdouts, & emergent rookies we can’t ignore. As always the team’s record from the previous year is in parentheses, with the predicted record for this season following it. And remember…no wagering. I am not a professional and most of the time I’m not very good at this. Let’s just relax & have some fun.

 

  

 

 

North

Pittsburgh Steelers (9-6-1) 10-6

Baltimore Ravens (10-6) 9-7

Cleveland Browns (7-8-1) 8-8

Cincinnati Bengals (6-10) 3-13

Despite an eventful off-season that saw talented but troubled WR Antonio Brown shipped to The Left Coast I don’t think my Steelers will implode. However, I do expect divisional games to be even more competitive than usual. Don’t sleep on the Ravens…they’ll battle for every yard on both sides of the ball, and new QB Lamar Jackson is feast or famine: he’ll have moments of pure brilliance, but he needs to become a better passer and has to stay healthy. Everyone needs to slow their roll on the “new & improved” Browns. Going back to his college days I’ve always opined that QB Baker Mayfield gave me a Bret Favre-ish vibe, and I see it now more than ever. Adding receivers Odell Beckham Jr. & Jarvis Landry into the mix along with a backfield of Nick Chubb & Kareem Hunt bodes well for the offense. I like their defense too…DEs Myles Garrett & Olivier Vernon and tackle Sheldon Richardson should be stout against the run as well as put some pressure on opposing QBs, and the secondary might be sneaky good. Having said that, I’m not buying Cleveland as a playoff team just yet. The Bengals finally pushed longtime head coach Marvin Lewis out the door, but I’m not sure 35 year old Zac Taylor is the answer. He’s never been a head coach at any level and the learning curve will be quite foreboding. Regardless of whether or not Taylor lasts more than a season or two Cincy probably needs to blow things up and construct a whole new roster from the ground up.

 

 

South

Indianapolis Colts (10-6) 10-6

Houston Texans (11-5) 9-7

Jacksonville Jaguars (5-11) 9-7

Tennessee Titans (9-7) 5-11

There are just so many questions…this might be the most difficult division in the league to calculate. Can Colts’ QB Andrew Luck stay healthy?? Will QB Nick Foles be the answer Jacksonville has been seeking?? Marlon Mack, Derrick Henry, Lamar Miller, or Leonard Fournette…which running back will lead the pack?? Will any of these four defenses emerge as elite (the Jags were #5 a year ago, the Titans #8, Indy & Houston were #11 & #12)?? I’m downgrading Indianapolis a bit due to concerns about Luck’s ankle, but still think they will win the division if he doesn’t miss more than a couple of games. I like Foles and the Jags’ defense is stout, but have serious doubts about the durability of Fournette and the rest of their skill players inspire little confidence. I love Texans’ QB Deshaun Watson, but somebody other than WR DeAndre Hopkins has to step up and be reliably productive. Houston has the same issue on the defense…JJ Watt is fantastic, but others have to contribute. My vibe is that they take a step back this season, make some adjustments, and become serious contenders in 2020. This feels like a make or break year for Titans’ QB Marcus Mariota. When he came out of Oregon in 2015 the big debate about who would go #1 overall in the draft was between him and Florida St.’s Jameis Winston. Winston went to Tampa while Mariota was chosen next, but neither quarterback has set the world on fire. There just seems to be something amiss in Tennessee. I think they decline slightly and head coach Mike Vrabel finds himself on the hot seat.

 

 

East

New England Patriots (11-5) 10-6

New York Jets (4-12) 8-8

Miami Dolphins (7-9) 8-8

Buffalo Bills (6-10) 3-13

Here we go again. Tom Brady appears to be ageless and Bill Belichick’s stature as a head coach grows with each passing year, despite his shady tactics. The Patriots have become Tiger Woods from two decades ago when he was winning a lot but we all knew he really only cared about the majors. In much the same way it seems like everyone understands that New England will win a rather weak division, and their only true goal is another Super Bowl. With that in mind I think they’ll win the division but not run away with it. Jets’ QB Sam Darnold continues his maturation process, and now he has RB Le’Veon Bell as a safety net. I like what the Jets are doing and believe they’ll noticeably improve. I feel bad for Dolphins & Bills fans. They’ve known for a decade & a half that their teams aren’t winning the division, but they don’t even get to enjoy watching obvious progress. Both squads just seem to be treading water and perpetuating their mediocrity with poor coaching hires, bad free agent moves, and subpar drafts.

 

 

West

Kansas City Chiefs (12-4) 11-5

Los Angeles Chargers (12-4) 10-6

Oakland Raiders (4-12) 6-10

Denver Broncos (6-10) 3-13

At the time of publication Chargers’ RB Melvin Gordon is threatening to continue his holdout into the start of the season, which could certainly have a negative impact. Even if he’s back in uniform Week 1 there have to be questions about fitness & durability after sitting out the entire pre-season. It’s a messy situation that opens the door just enough for the Chiefs to slip by & take the division. There’s a lot to like about KC, led by NFL MVP quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Speaking of messy situations, the Antonio Brown Circus has moved from Pittsburgh to Oakland, which theoretically should make the Raiders better on the field…but I’m not convinced. I’ve lost track of whether this is the team’s final season in Oakland or if they’ll have to wait until 2021 to relocate to Las Vegas, but until that move occurs I think the Raiders are stuck in neutral. The Broncos have ostensibly improved their quarterback quandary with the addition of Joe Flacco & by drafting Drew Lock out of Missouri in the second round of the draft. They also have new head coach Vic Fangio, which should help the defense. Give this group time to gel & they have potential, but I have low expectations for the current season.

 

Playoff Teams:   Chiefs, Steelers, Patriots, Colts, Chargers, Texans

AFC Championship:    New England Patriots vs. Los Angeles Chargers

 

 

 

 

North

Chicago Bears (12-4) 11-5

Minnesota Vikings (8-7-1) 8-8

Green Bay Packers (6-9-1) 8-8

Detroit Lions (6-10) 5-12

The more things change the more they stay the same, and I don’t expect much difference in what ESPN’s Chris Berman used to call the Norris Division. The Packers have a new head coach and QB Aaron Rodgers has become increasingly enigmatic. The Vikings have some talent but not enough to move the needle. The Lions are…well, they’re the Lions. That leaves the Bears to claim another division crown and vie for home field thru the playoffs. QB Mitch Trubisky should take another step in his development and I have high expectations. Combined with a tough defense that makes for a potentially elite team. Anything short of an appearance in the conference title game will be a disappointment for Chicago.

 

 

South

New Orleans Saints (13-3) 14-2

Atlanta Falcons (7-9) 9-7

Carolina Panthers (7-9) 9-7

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-11) 2-14

My heart still hurts for the Saints and their fans. They absolutely should have been in the Super Bowl last season but got royally screwed by an inept officiating crew. My vibe is that situation will provide motivation to an already very solid team. QB Drew Brees is almost as nature-defying as Brady, but I suspect this may be his last great opportunity to get another Lombardi Trophy. The Falcons & Panthers will both be good but not great, and I have serious concerns about the health & durability of Carolina QB Cam Newton. Tampa is just a warmer version of Buffalo with a more heralded QB. They can change coaches and do all the tinkering they want, but none of their decisions seem to work out the way they hope. Jameis Winston is undeniably talented, but I just don’t think he is a top shelf NFL quarterback.

 

 

East

Philadelphia Eagles (9-7) 10-6

Dallas Cowboys (10-6) 9-7

Washington Redskins (7-9) 7-9

New York Giants (5-11) 6-10

The Eagles’ safety blanket is gone, so QB Carson Wentz better stay healthy. Not only that, but he needs to live up to the hype. The division will be a dog fight, and Wentz needs to fulfill his potential for Philly to come out on top. I’m not buying the Cowboys’ hype. I don’t think they’ll be horrible, but the holdout of RB Zeke Elliott could have a negative impact. Media types will yap endlessly about a “quarterback controversy” in New York, but does it really matter?? I’ve never thought Eli Manning was that good, and if he loses the starting gig to rookie Daniel Jones it says a lot more about Manning than it does Jones. Either way the Giants’ QB…whomever it may be…won’t have Odell Becham Jr. to throw to, and that’s a problem. RB Saquon Barkley can only do so much, right?? The Redskins will have some solid games and at times look like a potential playoff team, but at the end of the day their fans will be disappointed and be left to wonder what happened. Head coach Jay Gruden is an offensive coordinator masquerading as a head coach, successfully trading on his more famous brother’s name, and he’s not going to achieve much success with Case Keenum as his starting quarterback. Rookie signal caller Dwayne Haskins will likely snag the job by mid-season, so there is some hope for the future.

 

 

West

Los Angeles Rams (13-3) 10-6

San Francisco 49ers (4-12) 9-7

Seattle Seahawks (10-6) 8-8

Arizona Cardinals (3-13) 4-12

I hated what happened in the NFC Championship game last season not only because of how the Saints got shafted, but also because I knew the Rams were sitting ducks in the Super Bowl. As talented as they are I just knew that the Patriots were foaming at the mouth to take on a young & inexperienced coach/QB combo, and it turned out exactly as I knew it would. And now the Rams aren’t a secret to the rest of the league so their opponents will be more prepared than a year ago. I still think they’ll win the division, but it won’t be quite as effortless. Jimmy G. is back under center for the Niners, and that means a huge turnaround. They’ll be in a battle with several other teams for a wildcard berth, but that’s a nice change from last season. Seattle still has Russell Wilson and they made some solid draft picks, but I believe they’ll take a step back this year. The Cards are trying to copy the Rams’ formula, but I’m not convinced it’ll work. Kliff Kingsbury probably needed a few more years as a college coach before taking the helm of an NFL team, and Kyler Murray is a perfect example of a great college quarterback whose skills just don’t translate to the NFL. Kudos to the powers-that-be in Arizona for rolling the dice and trying something new, but two years from now Kingsbury will probably be coaching on Saturdays and Murray will be playing baseball…if NFL defenses don’t maim the little guy.

 

Playoff Teams:   Saints, Bears, Rams, Eagles, Falcons, 49ers

NFC Championship:   New Orleans Saints vs. Chicago Bears

 

 

 

             35

 

 

 

 

           34

 

 

 

 

 

Top 5 Picks in 2020 NFL Draft

1       Tampa Bay Buccaneers

2       Denver Broncos

3       Cincinnati Bengals

4       Buffalo Bills

5       Arizona Cardinals

2018 NFL Preview & Prognostications

The old saying is that “hindsight is 20/20”, and sometimes hindsight can also be absolutely hilarious. There is a Facebook page called Freezing Cold Takes which posts old tweets & comments from talking heads about players, teams, games, & draft picks that turned out to be way wrong, which is great because I’ve always thought it terrible that no one holds those people accountable for some of the outrageous opinions that they spew in an effort to get attention and stir the pot. Here at The Manofesto I do reflect on stuff I’ve written in the past and often call myself out on things about which I’ve been off base, and in looking back at last year’s preview I just have to roll my eyes that I said “football is a uniter, not a divider”, since the NFL proceeded to spend the next few months dividing the nation with their idiotic anthem protests. I’d like to think that this season will be different, but between renewed debate about those protests in addition to new rules that turn what used to commonly be referred to as a tackle into a penalty, I’m not sure football fans will be any happier with the NFL in 2018. Atleast they loosened up and clarified exactly what a catch is, so I suppose that’s progress. And as far as hindsight goes, a year ago I did throw out a plea for someone to “give Jon Gruden a coaching job and get him off our TVs”, so a shout out to the Raiders for answering that prayer.  As always the team’s record from the previous year is in parentheses, with the predicted record for this season following it. Enjoy.

 

 

 

 

North

Minnesota Vikings       (13-3)         11-5

Chicago Bears             (5-11)        8-8

Green Bay Packers     (7-9)           8-8

Detroit Lions                 (9-7)           6-10

 

The Vikings swapped out Case Keenum for Kirk Cousins at QB, which theoretically should be an upgrade. The defense was already stellar, and they’ve now added defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson and drafted cornerback Mike Hughes in the first round, so I see no reason to expect a dropoff. Minnesota won’t take anyone by surprise this year, but I still think they’ll win the division easily. The biggest surprise might be the Bears. I really like quarterback Mitch Trubisky, Jordan Howard & Tarik Cohen make for a great running back tandem, & I think wide receiver Kevin White (formerly of my WVU Mountaineers) will finally stay healthy and prove why he was a first round pick in 2015. My concern is with Chicago’s defense, and with this being new head coach Matt Nagy’s first season I think the playoffs are a bit much to expect. I feel like the Packers are leaning on their reputation but in reality aren’t that good. QB Aaron Rodgers has spent most of the offseason gallivanting around with new girlfriend Danica Patrick, and it wouldn’t be the first time that an athlete’s personal life has distracted them from their job. The Lions have a new coach too…former Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia, who was indicted for sexual assault back in his college days but not convicted, something he didn’t feel was important to mention to the powers-that-be in Detroit during the hiring process. I think Patricia will get the Lions over the hump someday…but not this year. The roster simply isn’t good enough and the division is too tough.

 

 

 

South

Carolina Panthers                 (11-5)         12-4

Atlanta Falcons                     (10-6)         7-9

New Orleans Saints              (11-5)         6-10

Tampa Bay Buccaneers      (5-11)         2-14

 

The NFC South has been one of the most compelling & competitive divisions in the league the past few years, but I don’t believe that’ll be the case in 2018. Cam Newton is in his eighth season under center for the Panthers, and it feels like the time for hype is over and he actually needs to lead his team back to the Super Bowl, a height they reached in 2015 before getting throttled by the Denver Broncos. I’m just not feeling good vibes about the Falcons or Saints, although I’d love to see 39 year old Drew Brees end his career on a high note in the next couple of seasons. I foresee sharp declines for Atlanta and New Orleans this year. I’ve never been a huge fan of Bucs QB Jameis Winston…not because he lacks talent since he is actually quite capable, but because he seems like kind of a jackass. Once again he is being accused of improper conduct, this time for allegedly groping an Uber driver a couple of years ago. The NFL found enough merit in the charge that they suspended Winston for the first few games of the season, and I don’t think things will get much better for the team once he returns.

 

 

 

East

Philadelphia Eagles              (13-3)         12-4

Washington Redskins                    (7-9)           9-7

Dallas Cowboys                              (9-7)           7-9

New York Giants                   (3-13)         6-10

 

A year ago I predicted that the Eagles would finish 5-11 and have the third overall pick in the NFL Draft. Instead they won 13 games & the division and went on to upset the Pats in the Super Bowl. Now starting QB Carson Wentz is returning from a torn ACL suffered late last season, and Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles is the backup, which seems unfair to the rest of the league. The Redskins lost Kirk Cousins but replaced him under center with Alex Smith, which feels like a lateral move. The Cowboys have Dak Prescott back as their quarterback, but I’m not sure he has anyone to thrown the ball to after the departure of Dez Bryant and the retirement of tight end Jason Witten. Sure they have RB Zeke Elliot, but what if defenses stack eight in the box and dare Prescott to beat them?? That won’t end well for Dallas. As much as some may disagree, I don’t believe the Giants are going to get back into the playoff hunt as long as Eli Manning is their quarterback. Eli has benefited from his family ties and a couple of really lucky Super Bowl wins, but in general I’ve always felt that he is overrated and now he is on the downside of his career. The Giants drafted running back Saquon Barkley second overall, and he will undoubtedly open up the offense allowing receiver Odell Beckham to catch his fair share of touchdowns, but I just don’t think it’ll be enough, especially if the defense doesn’t gel.

 

 

 

West

Los Angeles Rams               (11-5)         10-6

San Francisco 49ers            (6-10)         10-6

Seattle Seahawks                 (9-7)           5-11

Arizona Cardinals                  (8-8)           3-13

 

Seattle’s Legion of Boom has been relegated to the dust bin of history and their once imposing defense looks totally decimated. But hey, atleast they still have Russell Wilson at quarterback, right?? That’s the only reason I’m picking the Seahawks to win more games than the Cardinals, because Arizona is going into the season with fragile Sam Bradford as their signal caller…unless first rounder Josh Rosen steals the job in the pre-season. The 49ers seemed like a completely different team after they traded for QB Jimmy Garoppolo in the latter stages of last season, and I think he’s the real deal. I’m not all that confident in the weapons Jimmy G. has surrounding him, but if the defense is as good as it looks to be on paper then ‘Frisco could pull out their fair share of tight, low scoring games. Conversely, the Rams should put plenty of points on the board as young QB Jared Goff gets in sync with receivers Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods, Pharoah Cooper, & Brandin Cooks. Oh, and they have top flight running back Todd Gurley toting the rock. So if the defense is even slightly above average I think the Rams have to be the favorites by a nose over San Francisco.

 

 

Playoff Teams:   Minnesota, Carolina, Philadelphia, L.A. Rams, Washington, San Francisco

NFC Championship:   Minnesota Vikings vs. Philadelphia Eagles

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

North

Pittsburgh Steelers               (13-3)         11-5

Baltimore Ravens                 (9-7)           8-8

Cleveland Browns                 (0-16)         6-10

Cincinnati Bengals                (7-9)           5-11

 

It is a testament to how little regard I (and most of the football viewing public) give the Browns that I didn’t even realize that they went 0-16 last season. I thought they’d won atleast one game, but that was in 2016. I’m not all that enamored with #1 overall pick Baker Mayfield not because he doesn’t have potential but because I think Cleveland could’ve made some deals, improved their team, and still snagged Mayfield later in the first round. Actually he kind of gives me a Brett Favre vibe, and if that’s true then he could turn out to be the answer they’ve been searching for in The Factory of Sadness for many years. But for now winning more games than they’ve won in total over the past couple of seasons would be cause for optimism. If that actually happens then it could mean a last place finish for the Bengals, which I’d have to assume would bring an end to Marvin Lewis’ decade & a half long reign as Cincy’s head coach. I’m not at all impressed with quarterback Andy Dalton or any of his weapons, with the exception of receiver AJ Green, who has to be pondering an escape to a contender after eight seasons with a team going nowhere. Their defense might keep Cincinnati competitive in quite a few games, but I think they’ll fall short more often than not. There is a quarterback controversy brewing in Baltimore, with fans & sports media desperately wanting rookie Lamar Jackson (a former Heisman Trophy winner) to prove himself good enough to supplant veteran Joe Flacco. The problem is that neither quarterback has anyone noteworthy to throw to, and the running game is a triple threat of mediocrity. The defense is always stout in Baltimore though, which might be good enough to snag a wild card. The division is my Steelers’ to lose. A year ago I pointed out that “the AFC North isn’t their true competition” and that “the only thing on anyone’s mind is overcoming the Patriots and getting to the Super Bowl”. That is truer than ever after losing home field advantage to the Patriots on one of those stupid “was it a catch or wasn’t it” decisions and then not really showing up against the Jags in the playoffs. Much of the offseason in Pittsburgh has been spent dealing with RB Le’veon Bell’s contract demands, and it’s all but a foregone conclusion that this will be his final season wearing Black & Gold. That combined with Ben Roethlisberger’s advanced age makes 2018 feel like a make or break, all or nothing, all chips in the center of the table season for the Steelers.

 

 

 

South

Houston Texans                  (4-12)         10-6

Jacksonville Jaguars           (10-6)         9-7

Tennessee Titans                 (9-7)           8-8

Indianapolis Colts                 (4-12)         7-9

 

I really like QB Deshaun Watson. He may have been on his way to being named NFL Rookie of the Year until a knee injury took him out midway thru the season. Assuming that he is healthy & ready to go I have to believe that the Texans are the team to beat in the South. Philanthropic defensive tackle JJ Watt also had his 2017 season torpedoed by injury, but he’ll be back on the field as well leading a stout defense. There is a lot to like about Houston. I suppose most “experts” will be picking Jacksonville to win the division again and maybe even make it to the Super Bowl…but I’m not convinced. Obviously their defense is quite impressive, but I am stunned that they stuck with Blake Bortles under center, and the rest of the offense is just as prosaic with the exception of RB Leonard Fournette, who is an injury waiting to happen. The Colts’ entire season rests on the health of QB Andrew Luck, and judging by the past two years that’s not at all comforting. If Luck is back then the question is can he live up to the Peyton Manning comparisons that were prevalent when he first entered the league, and I just don’t see that happening this season. I’ve got to see more from receiver TY Hilton, tight end Jack Doyle, & running back Marlon Mack…not to mention the offensive line, and I’m really not sure what to expect from the defense. First year head coach Frank Reich really has his work cut out for him in Indy. I feel like the Titans will be about the same as last year, perhaps a bit improved defensively. I like QB Marcus Mariota, and Corey Davis should emerge as a legit top flight receiver, but with Houston rebounding from a season that I believe was an anomaly it feels like Tennessee will be on the outside looking in.

 

 

 

East

New England Patriots           (13-3)         11-5

New York Jets                       (5-11)         7-9

Buffalo Bills                            (9-7)           6-10

Miami Dolphins                      (6-10)         5-11

 

Ugh. I hate this part. The Patriots are like a damn cockroach that no one can seem to destroy. Credit where credit is due though…they have been resilient in fending off the competition for over a decade. Whether you attribute that to skill, luck, cheating, or something else is a matter of opinion. At any rate, I won’t predict their demise until I actually see proof of impending doom, and though I’ve been looking & hoping for that for a few years now it hasn’t happened yet. Everybody else in the division is just there to provide the façade of competition. The Jets have yet another new quarterback, although it is possible that veteran journeyman Josh McCown will start ahead of rookie Sam Darnold for a few weeks. Buffalo had a decent season a year ago, but I think they’ll fall back a bit in 2018. AJ McCarron is penciled in to start ahead of first round draft pick Josh Allen under center, and I suppose it is possible that either could emerge as a pleasant surprise. On paper the Bills defense seems like it should be good, so we’ll see. Ryan Tannehill returns from injury to quarterback the Dolphins, while Jay Cutler has re-retired and is doing reality TV. God help us all. There are some decent weapons available to Tannehill, but the fact that Cutler only got Miami six wins a year ago and Tannehill isn’t as good as Cutler doesn’t bode well. The defense has potential, but I don’t think that’ll be enough to win very many games.

 

 

 

West

Los Angeles Chargers            (9-7)           9-7

Oakland Raiders                    (6-10)         8-8

Kansas City Chiefs               (10-6)         7-9

Denver Broncos                     (5-11)         2-14

 

Thanks again to the Raiders for bringing Gruden back to coach, which means that ESPN’s Monday Night Football crew will consist of Joe Tessitore, retired players Booger McFarland & Jason Witten, and Lisa Salters reporting from the field. Sounds good to me. I don’t believe that the Raiders will be back in the playoffs just yet, but they’ll improve slightly and Derek Carr might get back to being the talented quarterback he was a couple of years ago. Amari Cooper and Packers’ refugee Jordy Nelson make for an impressive receiving tandem, and Marshawn Lynch & former Buccaneer Doug Martin should solidify the ground game. The defense seems like it has some questions, which is why I’m hesitant to make Oakland more than a .500 team. I really sense a decline coming from Kansas City. Second year quarterback Patrick Mahomes takes over for the departed Alex Smith, and it might take some time for the young man to figure things out. He’s got some fantastic weapons at his disposal, so perhaps the learning curve won’t be as steep as I’m predicting. The Broncos feel like they’re on the edge of the cliff. Case Keenum is the new quarterback, and we’ll find out fairly fast if he’s the talented guy that won 11 out of 14 games with the Vikings last season or the pedestrian backup everyone always believed him to be. If Denver’s defense gets back to being as great as they were when winning the Super Bowl a few years ago that’ll help a lot, but I feel like they were pretty good last season and the team only won five games. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but something is amiss in the Mile High City, and it might get worse before it gets better.

 

 

Playoff Teams:   Pittsburgh, Houston, New England, L.A. Chargers, Jacksonville, Baltimore

AFC Championship:    Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Houston Texans

 

 

 

 

 

 

17

 

 

 

 

13

 

 

 

 

 

Top 5 Picks in 2019 Draft:

1       Tampa Bay Buccaneers

2       Denver Broncos

3       Arizona Cardinals

4       Seattle Seahawks

5       Cincinnati Bengals

2017 NFL Preview & Prognostications

In light of all the absurdity happening in the world these days it’s good to know that it won’t be long until we can spend hours upon hours every weekend curled up on the couch watching football and forgetting about life for awhile. Football is a uniter, not a divider. Oh sure everyone has their favorite teams & players and fans will good-naturedly debate each other over such issues, but at the end of the day football fans on opposite ends of even the most longstanding rivalries usually have no problem sitting down with a cold beverage and some tasty snacks to watch the game together. There is so much common ground. Raider Nation, Cheeseheads, & Philly Boo Birds can all agree on certain things…the Browns suck, Tom Brady is a douche canoe, RedZone rocks, and for the love of God & all that’s holy will some lowly team PLEASE give Jon Gruden a coaching job and get him off our TVs. So in preparation for that upcoming glorious day please sit back, relax, & look into the gridiron crystal ball to see what might be in store for the NFL over the next few months. Enjoy.

 

 

 

 

AFC

 

East

New England Patriots

(14-2) 13-3

Miami Dolphins

(10-6) 8-8

Buffalo Bills

(7-9) 5-11

New York Jets

(5-11) 3-13

Sports media has spent the offseason fellatiating the Patriots even more than usual, including shoving Tom Brady’s 40th birthday down our throats like it was some sort of religious holiday. Look, I’m not an unreasonable man. Despite repeated instances of cheating their way to success I will begrudgingly concede that any team that wins five Super Bowls in 15 years deserves kudos, but numerous outlets predicting an undefeated season is just silly. This is a weak division that New England will win easily, but I think they’ll stumble a few times along the way. The loss of QB Ryan Tannehill to injury and the subsequent signing of the suddenly unretired Jay Cutler doesn’t move the meter either way for the Dolphins in my opinion. They might be in the wildcard conversation early on but aren’t a threat to be taken seriously. The Jets are going to get worse before they get better, and the Bills are just treading water, with new head coach Sean McDermott being the latest guy that’ll lead the team nowhere before getting canned in a couple of years.

 

 

West

Oakland Raiders

(12-4) 13-3

Kansas City Chiefs

(12-4) 9-7

Denver Broncos

(9-7) 8-8

Los Angeles Chargers

(5-11) 7-9

The Raiders and Chiefs were neck & neck last season, but I think this is a year in which the future Vegas franchise establishes dominance while Kansas City takes a step backward. I really like Oakland QB Derek Carr, and with RB Marshawn Lynch coming out of retirement, WR Cordarrelle Patterson coming over from Minnesota looking for a fresh start, & Amari Cooper ready to emerge as one of the league’s premier receivers the offense will be difficult to stop. Khalil Mack & Bruce Irvin are a formidable pass rushing duo. The Chiefs feel like they’re in a transitional phase, with first round pick Patrick Mahomes biding his time until QB Alex Smith goes away, career backup Spencer Ware & third round pick Kareem Hunt vying to replace departed RB Jamaal Charles, and talented receivers Tyreek Hill & Chris Conley stepping up in the absence of the departed Jeremy Maclin. The defense will have to be the foundation for KC. Whether Trevor Semien or Paxton Lynch wins the quarterback battle in Denver their defense will also be the key to success. The Chargers have moved from San Diego to Los Angeles and will play in a stadium about the size of my apartment. I feel bad for QB Philip Rivers because I’m sure this isn’t how he’d prefer to see his career wind down. Anthony Lynn is an unproven head coach, although offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt & defensive coordinator Gus Bradley are former head coaches themselves. First round pick Mike Williams, a receiver out of Clemson, and second rounder Forrest Lamp, an offensive lineman from Western Kentucky, have already suffered injuries in training camp (Lamp is out for the season, Williams should return at some point), which isn’t a good omen.

 

 

North

Pittsburgh Steelers

(11-5) 10-6

Cincinnati Bengals

(6-9-1) 9-7

Baltimore Ravens

(8-8) 8-8

Cleveland Browns

(1-15) 3-13

I am normally very cautious when it comes to having high expectations for my Steelers, but I can’t deny the fact that they should clearly be the best team in the division. I’m sure everyone in Pittsburgh would deny it, but the truth is that the AFC North isn’t their true competition. The fact is that the only thing on anyone’s mind is overcoming the Patriots and getting to the Super Bowl. Having said that, this division is always a grind so I don’t expect the Steelers to run away with the crown. It’ll be a season long slog. I think the Bengals will be better than most expect, with AJ Green & first round pick John Ross forming an intimidating receiving duo and the much maligned Joe Mixon adding a dimension to the running game. Baltimore feels like they’re spinning their wheels. Perhaps they should crowd source their fans for solutions. The Browns are the Browns…a perpetual Factory of Sadness where talented players waste away valuable years of their career. They may show a small improvement this year, but really…who cares??

 

 

South

Tennessee Titans

(9-7) 11-5

Houston Texans

(9-7) 8-8

Indianapolis Colts

(8-8) 7-9

Jacksonville Jaguars

(3-13) 6-10

Much like the West, in which two teams that were even as they crossed the finish line last season seem to be headed on divergent paths, so it goes in the South, with Tennessee taking a leap forward and the Texans seeing their momentum stopped for now. I really like Titans’ QB Marcus Mariota, and he’s got some weapons…RBs DeMarco Murray & Derrick Henry, TE Jace Amaro, and WRs Eric Decker & first round pick Corey Davis. The offensive line looks good too. I’m not quite sure about their defense though. Houston will once again rely heavily on their stout defense while they sort out the quarterback situation. Tom Savage will probably begin the season as the starter, but I really like Deshaun Watson and think he’ll be one of the league’s best QBs in a couple of years. Colts’ signal caller Andrew Luck was supposed to be the next Peyton Manning, but things don’t seem to be working out that way, and I don’t expect Indy to improve. I had been under the impression in recent years that the Jags were up n’ comers, but they’ve gone backward. Unlike most people I’m not that psyched about first round pick Leonard Fournette, and QB Blake Bortles inspires zero confidence.

 

 

 

Playoff Teams:   New England, Oakland, Pittsburgh, Tennessee, Kansas City, Cincinnati

AFC Championship:    New England vs. Pittsburgh

 

  

 

NFC

 

East

New York Giants

(11-5) 11-5

Dallas Cowboys

(13-3) 10-6

Washington Redskins

(8-7-1) 8-8

Philadelphia Eagles

(7-9) 5-11

The suspension of RB Zeke Elliott isn’t a good beginning for the Cowboys. Whether he’s out six games or has the punishment reduced a bit I think Dallas loses atleast a couple contests that they otherwise may have won. That opens the door for the Giants, who enter season two of the Ben McAdoo era having done rather well last year and now switch out receiver Victor Cruz (now with the Bears) for Brandon Marshall (formerly of the Jets) & add first round pick Evan Engram at tight end. This is a tough division, but New York has to be the heavy favorite. The Redskins have spent the offseason in a pissing contest with quarterback Kirk Cousins, but also added free agent receiver Terrelle Pryor, defensive end & first round draft pick Jonathan Allen, and fourth round RB Samaje Perine. Still though, they feel like a team on the negative side of transformation until the likely departure of Cousins and the drafting of a new quarterback next year. I love Eagles’ QB Carson Wentz, but Philly is a team with too many moving parts & youngsters to really gel into anything good at this point. Maybe next year.

 

 

West

Seattle Seahawks

(10-5-1) 12-4

Arizona Cardinals

(7-8-1) 8-8

Los Angeles Rams

(4-12) 6-10

San Francisco 49ers

(2-14) 5-11

Seattle had, by their standards, a pretty mediocre season in 2016, lowlighted by a surprising loss to the lowly Rams in week two. However, they did make the playoffs before being beaten by the Atlanta Falcons. RB Eddie Lacy has moved to the northwest from Green Bay, and I expect him to be in shape & a significant contributor. The Cardinals are looking to rebound from a tough year and get back to the team they were in 2015 when they played in the NFC title game. It’s all about QB Carson Palmer. At 37 years old can he summon up one last great season, or will the oft injured signal caller just kind of fade away?? The Niners & Rams keep adding pieces in free agency & thru the draft, but it doesn’t seem like either team is closer to turning things around. This is the Seahawks’ division to lose, and I don’t think it’ll even be competitive.

 

 

North

Green Bay Packers

(10-6) 12-4

Minnesota Vikings

(8-8) 9-7

Chicago Bears

(3-13) 6-10

Detroit Lions

(9-7) 5-11

Much like Seattle the Packers just felt a bit off last season, even though they made it to the NFC title game. I think there was a lot of drama in the personal life of QB Aaron Rodgers that affected him negatively, though we’ll never really know for sure. At any rate, keep an eye on the backfield, where converted receiver Ty Montgomery will get some stiff competition from hardnosed runner Jamaal Williams, a 4th round draft choice from BYU. Otherwise I assume Rodgers will pass the ball a lot to an array of talented receivers and the defense will be overlooked & underrated. In Minnesota Adrian Peterson has taken his child beating ways down south to The Big Easy and it’ll be up to former Raider Latavius Murray and/or rookie RB Dalvin Cook to replace him. The receiving corps is…okay…but I expect QB Sam Bradford to be handing the ball off much of the time. Good ol’ smashmouth football for the Vikings. The defense will be alright, but might have to be better than that in some low scoring slugfests. The Bears will allegedly try to get thru the season with QBs Mike Glennon & Mark Sanchez, with first round pick Mitch Trubisky essentially redshirting his rookie season to learn the ropes. It’s a bold strategy…let’s see if it pays off for them (or even if they stick to that plan). There are some talented offensive weapons in Chicago…receivers Kevin White, Markus Wheaton, Victor Cruz, Kendall Wright, & Reuben Randle, RB Jordan Howard, rookie tight end & 2nd round draft pick Adam Shaheen…but none of that matters if the quarterback is subpar. The defense in the Windy City has potential but is, on paper, underwhelming. I am predicting that the Lions take a big step backward after a career year from QB Matthew Stafford in 2016. Their defense has been upgraded, but I don’t think Stafford can repeat last season’s success, and I’m not all that enamored with the weapons he has to work with. The Packers will win the North, and it won’t be close.

 

 

South

Atlanta Falcons

(11-5) 10-6

Carolina Panthers

(6-10) 10-6

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

(9-7) 10-6

New Orleans Saints

(7-9) 9-7

All anyone will remember about the Falcons’ 2016 season is their epic collapse in the Super Bowl, which is a shame, but also can be used as motivation. They’ll be almost as good this year, but other teams will step up to compete. The Panthers’ putrid season was probably an anomaly, and I expect them to flip the script this year behind new offensive weapon Christian McCaffrey, who’ll line up in the backfield but can be a receiver as well. I like Tampa and believe we’ll see the continued maturation of QB Jameis Winston, especially since he now has a really good tight end in first round pick OJ Howard and a talented group of receivers, including free agent signee DeSean Jackson. The Bucs will be in the playoff hunt. I am rather sentimental, so I’d like to see QB Drew Brees lead the Saints back to the playoffs as he winds down his brilliant career, but I don’t think it’s going to happen. Signing free agent RB Adrian Peterson won’t be a difference maker since he’s way past his prime. Actually it’ll probably be Mark Ingram & third round choice Alvin Kamara getting most of the work in the backfield by the mid-point of the season.

 

 

 

Playoff Teams:   NY Giants, Green Bay, Seattle, Atlanta, Carolina, Tampa Bay

NFC Championship:   NY Giants vs. Green Bay

 

 

 

Pittsburgh Steelers      41  

Green Bay Packers 38

 

 

Top 5 Picks in 2018 Draft:

1       New York Jets

2       Cleveland Browns

3       Philadelphia Eagles

4       San Francisco 49ers

5       Detroit Lions