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:
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?
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?
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?
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?"
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?
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?
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?
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?
First Head Coach Fired: John Fox, Panthers
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Mike Williams, Bucs
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Ndamukong Suh, Lions
NFL MVP: 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. ;)