Tuesday, September 7, 2010

32 Teams, 32 Questions: My 2010 NFL Preview

Looking towards the coming NFL season, I can't help but notice the lack of a singularly dominant team. There's no obvious frontrunner, but no woefully bad teams either. Upon glancing at these 32 squads, a 10-6 record might be enough to coast to a Lombardi Trophy. Sportswriters have cried that NFL parity is dead, though others will argue that its corpse is being propped up by narcissistic team owners trying to save face in the wake of a potential lockout, but that's a discussion for another time.

Like my scattershot baseball preview from five months ago, I will pose each team's forecast as a question. The fact that the NFL has more parity than the other three major sports makes predictions quite difficult, and every year there's always three or four teams that take virtually everyone by surprise. Rather than address what seems fairly obvious, I want to focus on the intangibles and X-factors that could make this one of the most compelling seasons in recent memory... or a 17-week snoozefest.

Here are my prognostications:

NFC North
1. Packers (10-6) Will the oldest team in the NFC show their age?
2. Vikings* (9-7) Speaking of age, is this the year that Brett Favre finally stops cheating Father Time?
3. Bears (7-9) If the preseason was any indicator, how badly will the O-line fail Jay Cutler?
4. Lions (5-11) Can you name a defensive player on this team not named Ndamukong Suh?

NFC East
1. Redskins (9-7) What is Albert Haynesworth more likely to memorize, his playbook or directions to Baskin Robbins?
2. Giants (8-8) Can Brandon Jacobs stay healthy?
3. Eagles (7-9) Who's more overmatched, Kevin Kolb or LeSean McCoy?
4. Cowboys (7-9) With that aging O-line (average age: 32), can Them Boys overcome the toughest schedule in the NFC?

NFC South
1. Saints (11-5) Can Drew Brees' high-flying O continue to compensate for a shaky D?
2. Falcons* (10-6) Is a leaner Michael Turner any meaner?
3. Panthers (6-10) Was last year's last-season surge a mirage?
4. Buccaneers (5-11) Will a young core mature enough to compete at a professional level?

NFC West
1. 49ers (9-7) Is Alex Smith the real deal, or a mediocre QB taking advantage of a weak division?
2. Cardinals (8-8) Does Coach Whiz have any confidence in Derek Anderson?
3. Rams (4-12) With Bradford still going through growing pains, can Steven Jackson carry the offense again?
4. Seahawks (3-13) Between the porous O-line, erratic secondary, and inexperienced D-line, does any other NFL team scream "potential train wreck?"

AFC North
1. Ravens (11-5) Can Baltimore avoid racking up so many penalty yards?
2. Bengals (8-8) Was last year's strides on defense a fluke?
3. Steelers (7-9) With unproven Dennis Dixon subbing for Ben Roethlisberger, can a Polamalu-led defense carry the Steel Curtain?
4. Browns (4-12) Mild improvements on defense notwithstanding, could Cleveland pin their hopes on a more beaten-down QB than Jake Delhomme?

AFC East
1. Jets (10-6) With Darrelle Revis signed (finally), can we already stamp their ticket to Dallas?
2. Patriots* (10-6) Can the offense compensate if Logan Mankins doesn't sign ASAP?
3. Dolphins (7-9) Will Brandon Marshall adapt to a run-first offense?
4. Bills (3-13) Is Ralph Wilson competing with Al Davis to be the orneriest owner in the NFL?

AFC South
1. Colts (12-4) Following that Super Bowl boner, is this the year Peyton Manning starts to look human?
2. Texans* (10-6) Is a healthy Matt Schaub the best-kept secret in the league?
3. Jaguars (6-10) Can Aaron Kampman boost a woeful sack record?
4. Titans (5-11) Amelia Earhart, Jimmy Hoffa, Vince Young: who can disappear faster?

AFC West
1. Chargers (11-5) With or without two crucial contract holdouts, are they the AFC version of the Saints?
2. Chiefs (9-7) Will an increasingly erratic Matt Cassel take advantage of the easiest sked in the conference?
3. Broncos (8-8) Is Tim Tebow the next Andre Ware?
4. Raiders (5-11) Is Jason Campbell really an upgrade over JaMarcus Russell?

*Wild Card

First Head Coach Fired: John Fox, Panthers
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Mike Williams, Bucs
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Ndamukong Suh, Lions
: Drew Brees, New Orleans
Super Bowl XLV: New Orleans 24, Baltimore 20

In defending my predictions in the form of a question, I can lift some of the blame off myself if things don't go as expected. Trust me, that's coming from a guy that predicted a Red Sox-Phillies Fall Classic back in April. ;)


  1. I know I don't have any confidence in Derek Anderson... Maybe Max Hall will be good?

    I have the Ravens in the Super Bowl for the AFC too, no idea who makes it in the NFC though.

    Did you see the predictions where the Lions were ranked ahead of the Bears a few days ago? The Bears were 6-10, and the Lions were 7-9 in them...

  2. You ever notice, like, how like, everything ends in a question? Like how does that happen? It does? It is? You know? I don't know? Will things ever work out for the Bears? Do we all not want Lovie & Angelo fired? Are we in the position where we want the team to succeed, but it still reflects on the coaches badly? Can there ever be enough questions?

    For me, the big NFL topic lately has been the idea to a 18-game schedule, in other words, the NFL trying to ruin its product. Say hello to a 9-9 or 8-10 Super Bowl team.

    I've already given up on the Bears. If they win anymore than 6, I'll be surprised. As for my prediction, I won't pick the Saints or the returning AFC team back to the Super Bowl (rare for teams to repeat) but I still won't watch, so it doesn't matter.

  3. Agreed, an 18 game season would be a big mistake. The only good thing Goodell has done is the player conduct policy anyway...

    Who wants to bet that those extra two games will just be two more games for the Colts to rest their starters?

  4. I don't think I've ever been so angry after a Bears win. The Lions should have won that game. Yet Lovie is living it up like he's a fucking genius. No catch my ass!!


  5. That was an underwhelming performance, but a win is a win. Kinda weird being on the winning side of a blown call, though.

    Word on the street is that Matthew Stafford is injured again, so that might guarantee us another win, who knows?

  6. That new rule affects everyone, and it's just a matter of time before it screws over the Bears. I see no reason why to have such a complicated rule, when on a TD run all they need is the nose of the ball to cross the plane. The NFL is getting really stupid with their rules, including the no-touch the QB's helmet, which included some pussy-esque bullshit penalties.

    The fact that the Bears played so poorly to the pathetic Lions, a whole half by the backup QB and it took a new rule for them to win, should show how truly awful and wrong things are at Halas Hall. I look forward to a new head coach and GM who doesn't piss away the draft every single year. If it weren't for inept ownership & a likely pending strike next year, Lovie & Angelo should had been gone. I feel sorry for Bears fans that have to endure this crap for another season. But non-apologists and arrogant football heads say "a win is a win", and completely ignore how ugly it really was. They really should have gone into HT down 14-3, and I think Forte stepped out on that TD run. Somebody didn't do a very good job painting the field. I'm actually starting to waiver on my no-FieldTurf rule.

  7. If it's any condolence Mark, the national media has finally caught on to the Bears' management woes. An article in Forbes magazine last month exposed Ted Phillips as an incompetant brown-noser. It was a jarring statement for a lot of people, but old news to anyone that reads the Trib and Sun-Times' sports sections or follows the organization closely. Knowing how ESPN et al. likes to demonize the management of underperforming teams in major markets, the Phillips/Angelo/Lovie triumvirate cannot risk any more mistakes at this point. The media scrutiny has just increased thirty-fold.

  8. I saw that article. Forbes said the Bears were an NFL ranked 9th, even behind Baltimore (!) The Bears may be king in Chicago, but they've really become putrid in the NFL. "On the field they've recently been just as mediocre, compiling a 111--129 record since 1995. No NFL team has done less with more."

    Bears fans (not me included; at least in this decade) have wasted a lot of money on a parade of futility.